Urine Microscopy as a Biomarker of Acute Kidney Injury Following Cardiac Surgery with Cardiopulmonary Bypass

J Bras Nefrol. 2019 Oct 21. [Epub ahead of print]


Acute kidney injury (AKI) occurs in about 22% of the patients undergoing cardiac surgery and 2.3% requires renal replacement therapy (RRT). The current diagnostic criteria for AKI by increased serum creatinine levels have limitations and new biomarkers are being tested. Urine sediment may be considered a biomarker and it can help to differentiate pre-renal (functional) from renal (intrinsic) AKI.


To investigate the microscopic urinalysis in the AKI diagnosis in patients undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.


One hundred and fourteen patients, mean age 62.3 years, 67.5 % male, with creatinine 0.91 mg/dL (SD 0.22) had a urine sample examined in the first 24 h after the surgery. We looked for renal tubular epithelial cells (RTEC) and granular casts (GC) and associated the results with AKI development as defined by KDIGO criteria.


Twenty three patients (20.17 %) developed AKI according to the serum creatinine criterion and 76 (66.67 %) by the urine output criterion. Four patients required RRT. Mortality was 3.51 %. The use of urine creatinine criterion to predict AKI showed a sensitivity of 34.78 % and specificity of 86.81 %, positive likelihood ratio of 2.64 and negative likelihood ratio of 0.75, AUC-ROC of 0.584 (95%CI: 0.445-0.723). For the urine output criterion sensitivity was 23.68 % and specificity 92.11 %, AUC-ROC was 0.573 (95%CI: 0.465-0.680).


RTEC and GC in urine sample detected by microscopy is a highly specific biomarker for early AKI diagnosis after cardiac surgery.