Rhabdomyolysis among critically ill combat casualties: Associations with acute kidney injury and mortality

Ian J. Stewart*, Tarra I. Faulk, Jonathan A. Sosnov, Michael S. Clemens, Joel Elterman, James D. Ross, Jeffrey T. Howard, Raymond Fang, David H. Zonies, Kevin K. Chung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Rhabdomyolysis has been associated with poor outcomes in patients with traumatic injury, especially in the setting of acute kidney injury (AKI). However, rhabdomyolysis has not been systematically examined in a large cohort of combat casualties injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of casualties injured during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan who were initially admitted to the intensive care unit from February 1, 2002, to February 1, 2011. Information on age, sex, Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) score, Injury Severity Score (ISS), mechanism of injury, shock index, creatine kinase, and serum creatinine were collected. These variables were examined via multivariate logistic and Cox regression analyses to determine factors independently associated with rhabdomyolysis, AKI, and death. RESULTS: Of 6,011 admissions identified, a total of 2,109 patients met inclusion criteria and were included for analysis. Rhabdomyolysis, defined as creatine kinase greater than 5,000 U/L, was present in 656 subjects (31.1%). Risk factors for rhabdomyolysis identified on multivariable analysis included injuries to the abdomen and extremities, increased ISS, male sex, explosive mechanism of injury, and shock index greater than 0.9. After adjustment, patients with rhabdomyolysis had a greater than twofold increase in the odds of AKI. In the analysis for mortality, rhabdomyolysis was significantly associated with death until AKI was added, at which point it lost statistical significance. CONCLUSION: We found that rhabdomyolysis is associated with the development of AKI in combat casualties. While rhabdomyolysis was strongly associated with mortality on the univariate model and in conjunction with both ISS and age, it was not associated with mortality after the inclusion of AKI. This suggests that the effect of rhabdomyolysis on mortality may be mediated by AKI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-498
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Mortality
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Trauma
  • War


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