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  • Definition

    Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Some of these are harmful to the kidney and frequently result in kidney damage.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    When muscle is damaged, a protein pigment called myoglobin is released into the bloodstream and filtered out of the body by the kidneys. Myoglobin breaks down into potentially harmful compounds. It may block the structures of the kidney, causing damage such as acute tubular necrosis or kidney failure.

    Dead muscle tissue may cause a large amount of fluid to move from the blood into the muscle, reducing the fluid volume of the body and leading to shock and reduced blood flow to the kidneys.

    The disorder may be caused by any condition that results in damage to skeletal muscle, especially trauma.

    Risk factors include the following:

    • Alcoholism (with subsequent muscle tremors)
    • Certain inherited or genetic syndromes
    • Crush Injuries
    • Heat intolerance
    • Heatstroke
    • Ischemia or necrosis of the muscles (as may occur with arterial occlusion, deep venous thrombosis, or other conditions)
    • Low phosphate levels
    • Seizures
    • Severe exertion such as marathon running or calisthenics
    • Shaking chills
    • Trauma
    • Use or overdose of drugs, especially cocaine, amphetamines, statins, heroin, or PCP