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Rhabdomyolysis Signs and Symptoms continued...

Blood tests for creatine kinase, a product of muscle breakdown and urine tests for myoglobin, a relative of hemoglobin that is released from damaged muscles can help diagnose rhabdomyolysis. Other tests may rule out other problems, confirm the cause of rhabdomyolysis, or check for complications.

Common complications of rhabdomyolysis include very high levels of potassium in the blood which can lead to an irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest and kidney damage (which occurs in up to half of patients). About one in four also develop problems with their liver. A condition called compartment syndrome may also occur after fluid resuscitation. This serious compression of nerves, blood vessels, and muscles can cause tissue damage and problems with blood flow.

Rhabdomyolysis Treatments

Early diagnosis and treatment of rhabdomyolysis and its causes are keys to a successful outcome. You can expect full recovery with prompt treatment. Doctors can even reverse kidney damage. However, if compartment syndrome is not treated early enough, it may cause lasting damage.

If you have rhabdomyolysis, you will be admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for the cause. Treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids helps maintain urine production and prevent kidney failure. Rarely, dialysis treatment may be needed to help your kidneys filter waste products while they are recovering. Management of electrolyte abnormalities (potassium, calcium and phosphorus) helps protect your heart and other organs. You may also need a surgical procedure (fasciotomy) to relieve tension or pressure and loss of circulation if compartment syndrome threatens muscle death or nerve damage. In some cases, you may need to be in the intensive care unit (ICU) to allow close monitoring.

Most causes of rhabdomyolysis are reversible.

If rhabdomyolysis is related to a medical condition, such as diabetes or a thyroid disorder, appropriate treatment for the medical condition will be needed. And if rhabdomyolysis is related to a medication or drug, its use will need to be stopped or replaced with an alternative.

After treatment, discuss with your doctor any needed limitations on diet or activity. And, of course, avoid any potential causes of rhabdomyolysis in the future.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on October 13, 2014
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