What Causes Acute Tubular Necrosis?


Your kidneys have tube-shaped structures responsible for removing salt, waste products, and excess fluids from your bloodstream. When these tubes get injured, it is called acute tubular necrosis. It is a severe kidney injury that can disrupt your normal body functions. 

Causes of Acute Tubular Necrosis

Insufficient oxygen supply to the kidneys is the most common cause of ATN. Your kidneys can get damaged if proper oxygen does not reach your blood and the blood does not flow to your kidneys sufficiently. Hypotension or the use of certain medication can cut off the blood supply to your kidneys. Furthermore, harmful toxins in your bloodstream can also cause ATN. 

Some medications that may trigger ATN are:

  • Anesthetics 
  • Antibiotics 
  • Radiology 
  • Dyes

Symptoms of Acute Tubular Necrosis

The signs of ATN are usually dependent on its severity. Following are some of the most common symptoms of ATN: 

  • Insufficient Urine 
  • Fatigue throughout the day 
  • Fluid retention 
  • Swelling 
  • Severe dehydration 
  • Severe thirst 
  • Lethargy and lack of energy 
  • Confusion 
  • Nausea or vomiting 

If you have any of these symptoms, it is best that you visit your primary care physician without any delay. 

Risk Factor of ATN 

Numerous factors can put any individual at risk of ATN. These risk factors may vary depending on your overall health and any ongoing medical problems. Following are some of the most common risk factors for acute tubular necrosis: 

1- Major Surgery

If you have recently had a major surgical procedure, it can increase your chances of acute tubular necrosis. It is because your blood flow or supply can get affected during the process and may take time to get back to normal. Thus, you should be careful after getting any surgery done. 

2- Recent Injury, Particularly to the Kidneys 

Any injury can cause trauma, leading to the formation of blood clots in your bloodstream. Hence, you should be careful with yourself, and if you get injured, monitor all your symptoms and consult with your primary care physician. 

3- Septic Shock

Septic shock is very dangerous, particularly for those suffering from low blood pressure. It can cause a drastic drop in your blood pressure and cause circulation to your kidneys. You should not take this lightly and consult with your primary care physician immediately. 

Diagnosing Acute Tubular Necrosis

The following tests are done to diagnose an ATN:

1- CT Scans

It is done to see the inside your body and organs, particularly in the case of ATN, a detailed view of kidneys is taken. 

2- Blood Tests 

Bloods tests are done to check the levels of creatinine and sodium in your body. 

3- Biopsy

A biopsy of your kidney can also take place if the doctor needs to examine the tissues of your kidneys. 

4- Urinalysis 

A urine sample is taken to analyze the color, signs of infections and bacteria, and the abnormal cells present in the urine. 

5- Blood Urea 

Two tests:

  1. Blood urea nitrogen 
  2. Blood urea creatinine 

These tests are performed to check their levels as they increase with the decrease of your kidney’s health. 

Treatment of Acute Tubular Necrosis 

For treatment, your doctor can suggest diet changes and lifestyle improvement. They may also prescribe medication to decrease fluid retention and waste build-up in your kidneys. You may also need to be careful about your water intake because excessive intake can trigger more fluid retention and swell on your arms, legs, face, and feet. Regular exercise may also help to regulate blood flow and give you a boost of energy. 

Dialysis is the last treatment option for ATN. It will help wash all the waste build-up in your kidneys and improve blood circulation. 

Preventive Measures 

The following precautions can help you avoid acute tubular necrosis in your kidneys:

  • Maintain your blood flow and oxygen to the kidneys 
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
  • Drink plenty of water before and afterward if a test is required with contrast dye. 
  • In case of transfusion, make sure that your blood has been cross-matched. 
  • Work with your primary care physician to avoid or manage any kidney-related health condition, including heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and diabetes. 
  • Avoid taking OTC anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen, in case of a kidney condition. 


Acute tubular necrosis is reversible in people with good health and a strong immune system. It can last up to a few days or a week if you are a healthy person. In the case of people with health problems, ATN may be a challenge to manage, and it may even take months to correct. 

It is always best to consult professionals for better guidance. Book an appointment with the best Urologist in Peshawar through Marham.pk for more information.