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Ultrasound Treatment Protects Kidneys from Surgical Damage

Update Date: Aug 01, 2013 06:14 PM EDT

Ultrasound treatments may help protect the kidneys after surgery, according to a new study.

Researchers found that this simple and noninvasive therapy may help prevent acute kidney injury that commonly arises after major surgery.

Acute kidney injury is an abrupt decline in kidney function and is increasingly prevalent and potentially serious condition in hospitalized patients. Researchers said sometimes acute kidney injury arises after major surgery because the kidneys can be deprived of normal blood flow during the procedure. However, once the injury develops, patients have few established treatment options.

Researchers Dr. Mark Okusa and Joseph Gigliotti of the University of Virginia found that a drug-free, noninvasive, ultrasound-based treatment could prevent acute kidney injury in mice.

Researchers exposed anesthetized mice to ultrasound with a routine clinical imaging system 24 hours prior to blood disruption to the kidneys.  Afterwards, researchers found that the mice exhibited preserved kidney health after blood flow was restored.  On the other hand, mice in the control group exhibited significant kidney damage.

Researchers explain that the ultrasound treatment may have stimulated an anti-inflammatory response that originated from the spleen and was responsible for protecting the kidneys.

"Our studies using noninvasive ultrasound now provide us with an active treatment that appears to be simple, effective, and nontoxic for the prevention of acute kidney injury," Okusa said in a statement.

"To our knowledge this has never been described for the prevention of tissue or organ injury. Interestingly, we suspect that similar mechanisms that lead to kidney injury may also lead to lung, heart, and liver damage and that this form of therapy might be effective for prevention of injury in other organs as well," he added.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

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