Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.
Rhabdomyolysis results from any condition that causes significant muscle damage. These include:
• Certain muscle diseases
• Severe muscle injuries (eg, crush injury)
• Overuse of alcohol or illicit drugs
• Use of some prescription drugs
• Severe seizures or convulsions
• Rarely may be caused by extensive surgical procedures using large muscle dividing incisions
Risk Factors
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition. Factors that may increase the risk of muscle damage include:
• Extreme exertion, such as running a marathon
• Heatstroke
• Alcohol or drug abuse
• Uncontrolled seizure disorder
The most common symptoms include:
• Dark colored (brown or red) urine
• Muscle pain
• Muscle weakness
Other symptoms include:
• Muscle swelling
• Back pain
• Nausea
• Vomiting
In severe cases, rhabdomyolysis may result in:
• Kidney damage or failure due to blocked arterial blood flow
• Multi-organ failure
• Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
• Urine tests
• Blood tests
• Muscle testing (electromyography)
Treatment may include:
Giving large amounts of fluid is the main treatment. Fluids are usually given directly into a vein by an IV. Hydration helps to quickly flush myoglobin out of the kidneys, in order to restore their function.
Medication may include:
• Diuretics, to help flush out the kidneys
• Bicarbonate, to minimize myoglobin's toxic effects
Dialysis is a procedure that uses an artificial kidney machine to filter blood. The clean blood is then returned to your body.
Steps for prevention include:
• Drink plenty of fluids when:
o Exercising
o Sitting or working in hot, humid weather
• Avoid overuse of alcohol
• Avoid illicit drugs