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Quantifying the Impact of Alternative Definitions of Sepsis-Associated Acute Kidney Injury on its Incidence and Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

OBJECTIVES: To derive a pooled estimate of the incidence and outcomes of sepsis-associated acute kidney injury (SA-AKI) in ICU patients and to explore the impact of differing definitions of SA-AKI on these estimates.

DATA SOURCES: Medline, Medline Epub, EMBASE, and Cochrane CENTRAL between 1990 and 2023.

STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials and prospective cohort studies of adults admitted to the ICU with either sepsis and/or SA-AKI.

DATA EXTRACTION: Data were extracted in duplicate. Risk of bias was assessed using adapted standard tools. Data were pooled using a random-effects model. Heterogeneity was assessed by using a single covariate logistic regression model. The primary outcome was the proportion of participants in ICU with sepsis who developed AKI.

DATA SYNTHESIS: A total of 189 studies met inclusion criteria. One hundred fifty-four reported an incidence of SA-AKI, including 150,978 participants. The pooled proportion of patients who developed SA-AKI across all definitions was 0.40 (95% CI, 0.37-0.42) and 0.52 (95% CI, 0.48-0.56) when only the Risk Injury Failure Loss End-Stage, Acute Kidney Injury Network, and Improving Global Outcomes definitions were used to define SA-AKI. There was significant variation in the incidence of SA-AKI depending on the definition of AKI used and whether AKI defined by urine output criteria was included; the incidence was lowest when receipt of renal replacement therapy was used to define AKI (0.26; 95% CI, 0.24-0.28), and highest when the Acute Kidney Injury Network score was used (0.57; 95% CI, 0.45-0.69; p < 0.01). Sixty-seven studies including 29,455 participants reported at least one SA-AKI outcome. At final follow-up, the proportion of patients with SA-AKI who had died was 0.48 (95% CI, 0.43-0.53), and the proportion of surviving patients who remained on dialysis was 0.10 (95% CI, 0.04-0.17).

CONCLUSIONS: SA-AKI is common in ICU patients with sepsis and carries a high risk of death and persisting kidney impairment. The incidence and outcomes of SA-AKI vary significantly depending on the definition of AKI used.

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