News Release

Acute kidney injury after major elective surgery more common than ever before: Study

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Lawson Health Research Institute

TORONTO, June 25, 2012 – The number of patients receiving acute dialysis after cardiac and vascular surgery has increased three-fold since 1995. In a new study, researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) show a significant increase in the complications of severe acute kidney injury (AKI) requiring dialysis after major elective surgery.

"Outcomes of patients treated with acute dialysis after surgery remain poor. Our results should prompt renewed efforts to develop and test interventions to prevent severe acute kidney injury and to lessen the high burden of death and end-stage renal disease after acute kidney injury has occurred," says Dr. Amit Garg, one of the lead authors on the study. Dr. Garg is a Scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and ICES, a kidney specialist at the London Health Sciences Centre, and a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Western University.

The population-based study of Ontario patients between 1995 and 2009 found:

  • 552,672 patients underwent major elective surgery and 2,231 received acute dialysis.

  • AKI requiring dialysis is a devastating complication of major elective surgery. Among patients who received acute dialysis, 937 died within 90 days of surgery.

  • Among the 1,294 patients who received acute dialysis and survived, 352 required chronic dialysis.

  • The incidence of acute dialysis increased from 0.2 per cent in 1995 to 0.6 per cent in 2009.

  • This increase was primarily seen following cardiac and vascular surgeries.

"The use of acute dialysis after cardiac and vascular surgery has increased substantially since 1995. Interventional studies to better prevent and treat peri-operative acute kidney injury are needed," says Dr. Nausheen Siddiqui.


"Secular trends in acute dialysis following surgery, 1995 to 2009" is being published in the June 25, 2012 issue of the CMAJ. (pre-embargo link only)

More detailed study findings on the ICES website at:

AUTHOR BLOCK: Siddiqui, Nausheen; University of Toronto, Coca, Steven; Yale University, Devereaux, PJ; McMaster University, Jain, Arsh; London Health Sciences Centre, The University of Western Ontario, Canada, Medicine, Nephrology Li, Lihua; The University of Western Ontario, Luo, Jin; Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Parikh, Chirag; Yale University, Paterson, Michael; Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Thiessen-Philbrook, Heather; The University of Western Ontario, Wald, Ron; University of Toronto, Walsh, Michael; McMaster University, Whitlock, Richard; McMaster University, Garg, Amit X.; University of Western Ontario, Kidney Clinical Research Unit.

Lawson Health Research Institute. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care, London, and working in partnership with The University of Western Ontario, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. This work was done by the new provincial ICES Kidney, Dialysis and Transplantation Research Program.

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