Acute Kidney Injury and Associated Factors in Intensive Care Units at a Tertiary Hospital in Northern Tanzania

Neema W. Minja1,2 , Huda Akrabi1,2, Karen Yeates3, and Kajiru Gad Kilonzo1,2
Publication year: 


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a recognized complication in critically ill patients. The epidemiology of AKI varies worldwide, depending on the diagnostic criteria used and the setting. The International Society of Nephrology has called for a reduction in preventable deaths from AKI to zero by the year 2025. It is suspected that the majority of AKI cases are in limited-resource countries, but the true burden of AKI in these settings remains unknown. Objective: We aimed to determine, using standardized KDIGO (Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes) criteria, the prevalence of AKI, associated factors, and clinical characteristics of adult (≥18 years) patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) at a tertiary hospital in Tanzania. Design: Prospective observational study from November 2017 to May 2018.


In all, 320 patients admitted to medical and surgical ICUs were consecutively enrolled. Baseline, clinical, and laboratory data were collected on admission and during their ICU stay. Serum creatinine and urine output were measured, and KDIGO criteria were used to determine AKI status.


More than half (55.3%) of ICU patients were diagnosed with AKI. Of these, 80% were diagnosed within 24 hours of admission. Acute kidney injury stage 3 accounted for 35% of patients with AKI. Patients with AKI were older, more likely to have cardiovascular comorbidities, and with higher baseline serum levels of creatinine, potassium, universal vital assessment admission scores, and total white cell count ≥12. Sepsis (odds ratio [OR] = 3.81; confidence interval [CI] = 1.21-11.99), diabetes (OR = 2.54; CI = 1.24-5.17), and use of vasopressors (OR = 3.78; CI = 1.36-10.54) were independently associated with AKI in multivariable logistic regression. Less than one-third of those who needed dialysis received it. There was 100% mortality in those who needed dialysis but did not receive (n = 19). Limitations: Being based at a referral center, the findings do not represent the true burden of AKI in the community.


The prevalence of AKI was very high in ICUs in Northern Tanzania. The majority of patients presented with AKI and were severely ill, suggesting late presentation, underscoring the importance of prioritizing prevention and early intervention. Further studies should explore locally suitable AKI risk scores that could be used to identify high-risk patients in the community health centers from where patients are referred.