What causes Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)?

Acute tubular necrosis


Acute tubular necrosis (ATN) is a medical condition of kidney failure due to lack of blood flow or reduced oxygen supply. This disorder can also lead to loss of the kidney. A tubule cell in our kidney absorbs minerals and fluids and helps in the filtration of blood while entering the kidney. If these tubular get damaged, you develop ATN kidney injury. 

Acute tubular necrosis

Types of ATN 

There are mainly two types of acute tubular necrosis.

Toxic ATN

It is caused by myoglobin or hemoglobin. It is classified by proximal tubular flesh necrosis. It occurs due to poison, drugs, organic solvents, heavy metals, or any other toxic substance. 

Ischemic ATN

It occurs if the kidney does not get adequately inserted or at a proper place after a shock. It is also called hypoperfusion. It causes skip lesions across the tubules.

Causes of ATN

Acute tubular necrosis develops mainly in older people or in those who are already ill. It occurs when there is a lack of filtered blood flow in the kidney. The harmful substance present in your blood, if not get filtered, can damage tubules causing acute tubular necrosis. The other causes include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drug abuse
  • Hypertension
  • Toxins in our body
  • Antibiotics
  • Radiology dyes
  • Anesthetics
  • Sepsis
  • Blood loss in injury
  • Burns
  • diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Blood transfusion reaction
  • Major surgery
  • Trauma damaging muscles
  • Heart attack
  • Other kidney disorders

Symptoms of ATN

Acute tubular necrosis does not have any specific symptoms. But it does imbalances the internal structure of the kidney. Moreover, if not cured, it can also lead to kidney failure. 

The common symptoms from which you can identify this kidney disorder are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Involuntary muscle spasms
  • Less urination
  • Fluid retention
  • Sluggish feeling
  • Swelling in body
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Dehydration

Diagnosis of ATN

  • Acute tubular necrosis is graded as a nephrite cause of injury in the kidney. 
  • The health care practitioner or kidney expert will follow these ways to identify the disorder. 

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) 

It is used to analyze blood waste, such as plasma, creatinine, electrolyte, and potassium levels. Suppose these are found in the blood in the process of BUN. It indicates that the kidney is not functioning correctly.

Blood and urine tests

Blood and urine both reflect the injury of the kidney. Low blood pressure, drug abuse, dehydration all can be detected through urine or blood samples. 


This method is used to study the tissues of the kidney. This is also used to determine cancer or any other abnormality present in our body. 

Acute tubular necrosis

CT Scans 

This is used to detect conditions of the kidney. It can see any obstructive conditions, lessons, kidney stones, kidney disease, congenital anomalies, tumors, accumulation of fluids, polycystic disease. Depending on the report, you can proceed further with the treatment. 

Acute tubular necrosis

Treatment of ATN

Treatment is necessary to recover the kidney from tubules cells. Kennedy is most cases, can heal themselves if you will be following a proper diet, avoiding alcohol or drugs. Limit intake of sodium, potassium, or sugar in liquid form.

You might also be prescribed to go through dialysis to improve kidney functions. Some drugs may also be prescribed to increase urination. 

You can also be given some intravenous fluid to maintain blood flow to the kidney. 

Infections are being treated with the help of medications.

You will be asked to consume less fluid as it causes swelling in the arms, feet, and legs. 

Prevention of ATN

  • Acute tubular necrosis can be prevented by maintaining the kidney’s level of oxygen and blood.
  • Drink enough water, either more or less.
  • Test blood before transfusion.
  • Try to control your blood pressure, the reason for liver disease, heart disease, and diabetes. 
  • Avoid drugs or alcohol.
  • Check the effects of medications on the kidney.
  • Avoid consumption of toxic items.

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