August 12, 2013
New research at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is investigating the use of sound waves during major surgery as a way to prevent potentially deadly kidney damage.
UVa researchers have discovered that ultrasound appears to prevent acute kidney injury, which can happen during major surgeries.
Acute kidney injury may result from a loss of blood flow to the kidneys, causing a loss of kidney function and potentially prompting a series of serious, even life-threatening complications.
Researchers found that the ultrasound treatment does not appear to act on the kidney but on the spleen, an organ that helps regulate immune system responses. “During acute kidney injury, the spleen sends out inflammatory signals that lead to further injury to the kidney,” said UVA’s Mark D. Okusa, MD, Division Chief of Nephrology. “Exposing the spleen to ultrasound blocks these inflammatory signals and preserves kidney function. If you perform splenectomy prior to ultrasound treatment, there’s no protection. So it’s the spleen that’s likely the target for this effect.”
The UVA researchers found that an ultrasound could be administered up to two days before an injury and still have a protective effect. In the next stage of the research, Kambiz Kalantari, MD, Associate Professor, Division of Nephrology, will lead human studies in preventing acute kidney injury through ultrasound treatment.
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