Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.

  • Causes


    Rhabdomyolysis results from any condition that causes significant muscle damage. These include:

    • Excessive muscle activity
    • Certain muscle diseases
    • Severe muscle injuries, such as a crush injury
    • Overuse of alcohol
      or
      illicit drugs
    • Uncontrolled seizure disorder
    • Hypothermia
    • Contact with an electrical current
    • Toxins, such as snake or spider venom
    • Extensive surgical procedures using large, muscle-dividing incisions—rare

  • Definition

    Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Urine tests
    • Blood tests

    The activity of your muscles and heart may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Electromyography
    • EKG

  • Prevention

    Steps for prevention include:


    • Drink plenty of fluids when:

      • Exercising
      • Sitting or working in hot, humid weather
    • Avoid overuse of alcohol
    • Avoid illicit drugs

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of muscle damage include:

    • Extreme exertion, such as running a marathon
    • Heat stroke
    • Use of some prescription drugs
    • Alcohol or drug abuse

    • Severe
      seizures
      or convulsions

  • Symptoms

    The most common symptoms include:

    • Dark urine—brown or red in color
    • Muscle pain
    • Muscle weakness

    Other symptoms include:

    • Muscle swelling
    • Back pain
    • Nausea and vomiting

    In severe cases, rhabdomyolysis may result in:

    • Kidney damage or failure
    • Multi-organ failure

    • Abnormal heartbeat, also known as
      arrhythmia
    Anatomy of the Kidney
    Glomerulonephritis
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  • Treatment

    Treatment may include: