Crush syndrome sustained in the 1995 Kobe, Japan, earthquake; treatment and outcome

Ann Emerg Med. 1997 Oct;30(4):507-12. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(97)70011-8.


Study objective: To assess the treatment and outcome of patients with crush syndrome sustained in an earthquake disaster.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of eight patients with crush syndrome and subsequent acute kidney failure who were treated in the ICU of a university hospital. All eight patients had been extricated from buildings that collapsed in the 1995 Kobe, Japan, earthquake. Crush injury involved the upper extremities in one patient and the lower extremities in seven. Each patient received intravenous fluid infusion and diuretic drugs and underwent hemodialysis. Emergency fasciotomy was performed in some patients, 17 to 100 hours after extrication.

Results: All patients were conscious and lucid on admission, and blood pressure and heart rate were normal. All the patients demonstrated kidney failure with increased concentrations of serum creatinine (1.9 to 9.6 mg/dL [169 to 852 mumol/L]). Six patients were oliguric. Hyperkalemia (5.6 to 8.8 mEq/L) was present in six patients. We found close correlations between the serum potassium and creatine kinase concentrations, between the serum myoglobin and potassium concentrations, and between the serum myoglobin and creatine kinase concentrations. All the patients were weaned from hemodialysis. The serum creatinine concentration decreased to a normal level within 20 to 52 days of admission in all patients. No patients underwent amputation. Muscle weakness and sensory deficits persisted in all patients 6 months after the earthquake.

Conclusion: Our findings support current therapeutic strategies for crush syndrome, despite the long delay to initiation of intensive therapy. All the patients recovered kidney function and were weaned from hemodialysis; none required amputation.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Crush Syndrome / etiology
  • Crush Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Crush Syndrome / therapy*
  • Disasters*
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / blood
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Diuretics
  • Creatinine
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Potassium