This slide depicts the inverse relationship between P Cr and GFR (measured by inulin clearance) in a large number of subjects with varying degrees of renal function. The hyperbolic relationship between P Cr and GFR complicates the use of absolute increments in P Cr (e.g., > 0.5 or 1.0 mg/dl) as yardsticks for defining acute renal failure.
One of the things to bear in mind when we are talking about acute renal failure is that our marker for acute renal failure is generally the serum creatinine concentration, but this is a relatively poor marker of renal function. Certainly, there are issues related to the correlation between creatinine and level of GFR related to protein mass so that a creatinine of 1 does not represent the same level of GFR in a cachectic 70-year-old as in a highly muscular 25-year-old, but in addition the change in serum creatinine that occurs lags behind the change in GFR that is seen with acute renal failure. Here you see the abrupt drop in GFR in a patient with acute renal failure, but the serum creatinine lags behind so that it may not start going up for 24 or 36 hours after the acute insult and certainly when we see a patient with aggressively rising serum creatinine, that does not mean that the renal function is continuing to deteriorate. The GFR may be close to 0 and be maintained at that level close to 0 during that period of time. The creatinine has not come back into a steady state at this new very low GFR.
Dr S. Karthikeyan, Prof P. Vijayaraghavan’s Unit Stanley Medical College