Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major medical problem that is of particular concern after cardiac surgery. Perioperative AKI is independently associated with an increase in short-term morbidity, costs of treatment, and long-term mortality. In this review, we explore the definition of cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury (CSA-AKI) and identify diverse mechanisms and risk factors contributing to the renal insult. Current theories of the pathophysiology of CSA-AKI and description of its clinical course will be addressed in this review. Data on the most promising renal protective strategies in cardiac surgery, from well-designed studies, will be scrutinized. Furthermore, diagnostic tools such as novel biomarkers of AKI and their potential utility will be discussed.
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