Rhabdomyolysis and acute kidney injury in the injured war fighter

Joel Elterman, David Zonies, Ian Stewart, Raymond Fang, Martin Schreiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Rhabdomyolysis is a recognized complication of traumatic injury. The correlation of an elevated creatine kinase (CK) level and the development of acute kidney injury (AKI) has been studied in the civilian population. We sought to review the prevalence of rhabdomyolysis in injured war fighters and determine if peak CK levels correlate with AKI. METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted at a US military treatment facility from January to November 2010. Inclusion criteria were active duty patients transported after explosive, penetrating, or blunt injury. Patients with burns or non Ytrauma-related admissions were excluded. Rhabdomyolysis was defined as a CK level greater than 5,000 U/L. AKI was defined using the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes classification. Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to determine the significance for continuous data. Correlations were determined using Spearman's p. Significance was set at p < 0.05. RESULTS: Of the 318 patients included in our analysis, 310 (98%) were male, and the median age was 24 years (21-28 years). Blast was the predominant mechanism of injury (71%), with a median Injury Severity Score (ISS) of 22 (16-29). Rhabdomyolysis developed in 79 patients (24.8%). The median peak CK for all patients was 4,178 U/L and ranged from 208 U/L to 120,000 U/L. Stage 1, 2, and 3 AKI developed in 56 (17.6%), 3 (0.9%), and 7 (2.2%) patients, respectively. There was a weak but statistically significant correlation between peak CK and AKI (r = 0.26, p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Elevated peak CK levels in the injured war fighter are weakly associated with the development of AKI but are not predictive. The development of clinical practice guidelines would help standardize treatment for rhabdomyolysis in combat casualties and would allow for standardized comparisons in future work. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiologic/prognostic study, level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S171-S174
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Combat casualties
  • Rhabdomyolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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