Traumatic renal injury: Five-year experience at a major trauma centre in South Africa

M. S. Salem, R. J. Urry*, V. Y. Kong, D. L. Clarke, J. Bruce, G. L. Laing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study is intended to assess the current optimal management of traumatic renal injuries (TRIs), with a focus on high-grade and penetrating injuries. Methods: The Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service registry was interrogated retrospectively for patients managed for TRI between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2016. Results: Of 13,315 inured patients treated by the PMTS, 223 (1.7%) had TRIs with an incidence of 1.5 per 100,000 population per year. The majority were males between 20 and 39 years of age. The distribution of mechanism of injury was 56.1% (n = 125) blunt and 43.9% (n = 98) penetrating trauma with no association between mechanism and grade of injury. Penetrating trauma was associated with hollow viscus and diaphragm injuries and blunt trauma with solid organ injuries. A total of 118 patients (52.9%) were managed non-operatively, 60 (26.9%) were not explored at operation, 27 (12.1%) underwent initial nephrectomy and 8 (3.6%) underwent renorraphy. Low-grade injuries (AAST I and II) and high-grade injuries (AAST III-V) were managed without renal intervention (non-operatively or not explored at laparotomy for associated injuries) in 88.7% (n = 87) and 72.0% (n = 91) of cases respectively. Blunt and penetrating injuries were managed without renal intervention in 87.9% (n = 109) and 70% (n = 69) of cases respectively. The initial nephrectomy rate was 1% (n = 1) and 20.6% (n = 26) for low- and high-grade injuries respectively, and 6.5% (n = 8) and 19% (n = 19) for blunt and penetrating injuries respectively. High grade (AAST III-V) injury (OR 14.94; 95% CI 3.36 – 66.34; p<0.001), penetrating mechanism (OR 4.99; 95% CI 1.98 – 12.52; p = 0.001) and metabolic acidosis (OR 2.73; 95% CI 1.04 – 7.20; p = 0.042) were significant risk factors for nephrectomy. Four patients (1.8%) underwent ureteral stent insertion and 2 (0.9%) underwent embolisation. The failure rate of initial non-operative management was 1.1%. The mortality rate was 8.1% (n = 18), but no patients with solitary renal injuries died. Conclusion: Even in high-grade injuries and penetrating trauma, the majority of patients with TRI can be managed non-operatively or with the assistance of endourological or endovascular techniques, with good outcomes. Risk factors for nephrectomy include the presence of high-grade injuries, penetrating trauma and metabolic acidosis on presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal trauma
  • Blunt trauma
  • Kidney trauma
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Renal trauma
  • Traumatic renal injury


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