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Sharp Health News

First-of-its-kind test checks for kidney damage

Dec. 5, 2016

Test checks for kidney damage

The NephroCheck® test allows clinicians to quickly identify patients at risk for acute kidney injury and help to reduce the threat of kidney damage.

Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center is the first hospital in California to use a novel risk assessment test for acute kidney injury (AKI), an unpredictable and potentially deadly condition that is a common complication for patients in intensive care.

The NephroCheck® test allows clinicians to quickly identify patients at risk for AKI so they can intervene earlier and help reduce the threat of irreparable kidney damage. Once patients develop AKI, mortality rate, risk of complications, length of hospital stay, cost and readmissions can more than double.

"Nephrologists have been waiting decades for a test to help us detect kidney stress that can lead to kidney injury," says Dr. John Videen, a nephrologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista. "I'm excited to start using it, and I believe it will help get a jump on the condition."

AKI is as common and life-threatening as a heart attack, but unlike a heart attack, it has no symptoms and can progress silently, sometimes causing irreversible damage before it is detected. About half of the 5 million people admitted to ICUs each year will develop AKI. Patients with sepsis and patients receiving care for cardiac issues are at high-risk for AKI. Sepsis is the most common cause of AKI in critically ill patients. For cardiac surgery patients, developing AKI increases risk of death during hospitalization by 500 percent.

The NephroCheck® test helps clinicians determine if certain hospitalized patients are at risk of developing moderate to severe AKI in the 12 hours following the test being given. Early knowledge that a patient is likely to develop AKI may prompt closer patient surveillance and help prevent permanent kidney damage or death.

"This will allow us to get a 12-hour head start on the disease," Dr. Videen says. "It may give physicians enough warning that they can implement kidney-supportive measures, such as withholding nephrotoxic drugs."

Prior to the NephroCheck® test, clinicians could detect AKI only after it had already occurred.

"By the time I'd get the call about a patient, the only decisions left were whether to start dialysis and what kind of dialysis to use," Dr. Videen says.

According to Dr. Videen, the goal of using the test is to provide the highest quality care and to potentially reduce the rate of complications.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Videen about NephroCheck® for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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