Inexpensive urine test helps surgeons ID kidney injury after open heart surgery

New research out of a Fort Meyers, Florida, health center examined a urine test that can detect a patient’s risk for kidney injury after open heart surgery.

Paul DiGiorgi, MD, and colleagues at Lee Health developed the test as a response to the number of acute kidney injury (AKI) complications patients develop as a result of heart surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons stated in a news release. AKI involves the sudden loss of kidney function over hours or days and involves a buildup of waste in the blood that hinders the kidneys’ ability to balance body fluids. It’s a condition that can increase hospital mortality and affect a patient’s chance of survival.

DiGiorgi’s team analyzed the data of 1,116 patients who’d had heart surgery at HealthPark Medical Center between September 2015 and October 2016. Urine samples were collected from the patients, who were an average of 67 years old at the time of operation, four and 12 hours after the individual’s arrival in the ICU.

The researchers were able to detect possibility of AKI by monitoring two proteins: TIMP-2 and IGFBP7. If levels of those proteins were high, DiGiorgi said in the release, a patient was likely at elevated risk for AKI, and doctors needed to help minimize that possibility immediately.

“It is the intelligent application of the test results and care coordination that ultimately makes the difference in practice,” he said in the release, calling the test “superior” in detecting symptoms of AKI.

Indeed, patients enrolled in the study saw reduced risks for AKI as a result of the test, which costs under $100 and is processed within an hour.

“Although care providers are becoming increasingly savvy at preserving their patients’ health through a difficult illness, the most important time to take corrective action is before anything happens in the first place,” DiGiorgi said. “Through new technologies and careful research efforts like this, we are working to reduce the incidence of AKI and improve the care of heart surgery patients.”