Acute Kidney Injury

What is an acute kidney injury?

There are several things that might make your child’s kidneys suddenly stop working, including infections, disruption of blood flow, surgery or exposure to medications or other substances that are toxic to the kidneys. This is known as acute kidney injury (AKI).

  • AKI is often caused by a sudden decrease in blood and/or oxygen flow to your child’s kidneys.
  • Symptoms may appear over the course of hours or days.
  • AKI typically requires your child to stay in the hospital, but it’s very treatable and in the vast majority of cases the child’s kidneys recover.

How we care for an acute kidney injury

Our Division of Nephrology is the largest pediatric nephrology service in the United States. We care for patients with a wide range of kidney disorders, and we are home to the biggest dialysis and kidney transplant program in New England dedicated to treating and caring for children.

Our seven-bed dialysis unit is the only full-service pediatric dialysis unit in New England. If your child requires dialysis, our dialysis nurses, dieticians, tutors, child life specialists, social workers, psychologists and pharmacists will do everything they can to make sure your child is comfortable during her treatments.

Boston children's caregivers provide support services for your child and your family throughout all stages of treatment and recovery.

Our areas of innovation for acute kidney injuries

Boston Children’s is home to the world’s most extensive research enterprise at a pediatric hospital. In our End Stage Renal Disease Program — which includes the dialysis unit and our Kidney Transplant Program — our treatment is influenced by our research.

We also have a great number of partnerships with top research, biotech and health care organizations and we work together to improve kids’ health. One of these is the Transplant Research Center, which provides a rich environment for collaboration of scientists and physicians in the areas of transplantation and immunology.

If your child has end-stage renal disease, dialysis can filter the blood, but not take over the other roles of the kidney, such as regulating the amounts of some important vitamins and minerals released into the bloodstream and controlling blood pressure. For that, your child needs to take medication and follow a special diet. Our researchers are currently involved in several clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of medications, aimed at fulfilling this pharmaceutical component of treating end-stage renal disease. We’re also committed to developing better anti-rejection medication with the goal of more successful transplants and fewer side effects.