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Definition of «Rhabdomyolysis»


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Rhabdomyolysis: A condition in which skeletal muscle cells break down, releasing myoglobin (the oxygen-carrying pigment in muscle) together with enzymes and electrolytes from inside the muscle cells. The risks with rhabdomyolysis include muscle breakdown and kidney failure since myoglobin is toxic to the kidneys.

Rhabdomyolysis can occur from extensive muscle damage as, for example, from a crushing injury or an electrical shock. Drugs or toxins, particularly some of the cholesterol lowering medications such as cerivastatin (Baycol), may cause this disorder. Underlying diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus can also lead to rhabdomyolysis. It is a common complication of major burns.

The key signs and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include dark, red, or cola colored urine and muscle tenderness, stiffness, aching (myalgia) or weakness. Laboratory confirmation can come from the demonstration of myoglobin in the blood or urine.

Ideal treatment involves early and aggressive hydration with very large amounts of IV fluids to flush the myoglobin out of the kidneys. Diuretics may help. So may bicarbonate which makes the urine alkaline to prevent the breakdown of myoglobin into more toxic compounds.

From the Greek roots rhabdo-, striped (striated) + -myo-, muscle + -lysis, breakdown = the breakdown of striated muscle (skeletal muscle).

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