A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that the number of patients in need of dialysis after a major elective surgery has tripled over the past 17 years.

Severe acute kidney injury requiring dialysis has increased as more people are having elective surgeries such as heart bypasses that do not require emergency treatment.

For the study, researchers analyzed dialysis data from 552,672 Ontario patients who had major elective surgery between 1995 and 2009. Of these patients, 2,231 needed acute dialysis within 14 days of having the surgery. This represents an increase from 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent from 1995 to 2009.

It’s a serious complication with a high risk of kidney failure or death. One of the lead authors of the study, kidney specialist Dr. Amit Garg of London Health Sciences Centre, wrote, “It’s a very high risk of death in patients who develop this complication. And in those who survive 90 days, one fourth are now left with permanent kidney failure needing ongoing maintenance dialysis and those outcomes haven’t changed in the last 15 years.”

Researchers also noted that it’s reasonable to expect aging, less healthy patients to be at a higher risk for kidney injury. Those who already had weak kidneys before the surgery faced the highest risk, and those with diabetes or blood pressure problems were also at a greater risk of developing the complication.

One million people worldwide end up requiring acute dialysis after major surgery, according to the study. Researchers hope the results will shed light on an important issue and serve as a call for more studies into ways to prevent patients from having these terrible outcomes.

The team used three different databases on hospital admissions and discharges to conduct the study.

Sources: Canadian Medical Association Journal, CBC

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/uchar

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