Acute Tubular Necrosis



ATN may be caused by:

  • Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the kidneys from:
    • Blood clots
    • Blood loss
    • Loss of fluids from dehydration
    • Problems from surgery
  • Damage to kidney cells from things like medicines, contrast material used in imaging, and certain drugs

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Taking certain medicines
  • Using certain illegal drugs
  • Having certain health problems, such as:
    • Kidney, heart, liver, or lung disease
    • Blood pressure that is too high or low
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer
  • Blood loss from surgery



ATN may cause:

  • Urinating (peeing) more or less than normal
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of hunger
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood and urine tests will be done to look for problems with how the kidneys are working. Other tests will be done to find a cause. The person will need to see a doctor who treats kidney diseases.



Care depends on what is causing the problem. Options are:

  • Supportive care, such as fluids, nutrition, and oxygen
  • Stopping or changing medicines that are harming the kidneys
  • Medicines to:
    • Control health problems that are causing ATN
    • Manage problems caused by ATN, such as swelling, nausea, or feeling tired
  • Dialysis to filter blood when the kidneys cannot


The risk may be lowered by managing health problems that can harm the kidneys.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.