Preventing Aminoglycoside-induced AKI

The IRIS Board (2016)

Dogs appear to be more sensitive than cats to gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity which may be lethal. As other aminoglycosides are not authorised for use in dogs or cats, the precise susceptibility of the dog and cat to acute kidney injury (AKI) following their use is not established. In the absence of such information it is wise to follow the same precautions as detailed for gentamicin. Prevention and follow-up are very important.

A - Prior to aminoglycoside treatment:

  1. Consider carefully the potential risk factors: dehydration, concomitant treatment with furosemide, use of other nephrotoxic drugs, arterial hypotension, hypokalemia, previous history of AKI, pre-existing chronic kidney disease (CKD). When such factors are identified, alternatives to aminoglycoside-treatment should be considered.
  2. Perform urinalysis (measure urine specific gravity, examine for glycosuria, proteinuria [measure urine protein/creatinine ratio (UPC)], abnormal sediment). If abnormalities are detected, investigate carefully to determine the underlying cause before deciding whether to prescribe aminoglycosides.
  3. Blood tests: determine blood creatinine concentration, referring to IRIS guidelines for CKD. Avoid using aminoglycosides if the blood creatinine concentration is at the borderline between Stage 1 and Stage 2 or already in Stage 2 or above, unless antibiotic therapy is essential for a life-threatening condition and there are no alternatives to aminoglycosides.
  4. In borderline cases, further investigations might be considered to evaluate renal risk:
    1. Imaging: abdominal radiograph and/or ultrasonographic examination.
    2. Measurement of arterial blood pressure (High risk hypertension: systolic > 180 mm/Hg is indicative of renal damage and risk).

B - Select the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment:

Some of the treatment recommendations are not authorised for use in all geographical regions and some may not be authorised for use in dogs and/or cats. Such suggested dose rates are therefore empirical. It is the treating veterinarian's duty to make a risk:benefit assessment for each patient prior to administering any treatment.

Dosage of most commonly used aminoglycosides in dogs and cats (single dose administered IV, IM or SC once every 24 hours)*

Amikacin 15-30 mg/kg 10-14 mg/kg
Gentamicin 9-14 mg/kg 5-8 mg/kg
Tobramicin 9-14 mg/kg 5-8 mg/kg

*From Papich M. G. Table of Common Drugs, Approximate Dosages. In: Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XIV, Elsevier, St.Louis, 2009: 1306-1332

Risk of nephrotoxicity increases with the duration of the treatment as aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity is cumulative. Giving the total daily dose in one administration lowers the risk of toxicity as it reduces the proportion of the total daily dose that can accumulate within the kidney.

C - During the treatment:

  1. Assess the hydration status of the patient (body weight, total plasma protein concentration and haematocrit) and ensure adequate hydration is maintained during treatment.
  2. If therapeutic drug monitoring is available, ensure the plasma concentration of gentamicin has decreased to below 1 mg/l (1 µg/ml) before the next dose is administered.
  3. Assess serum creatinine concentration every 1-2 days during treatment. Small changes (i.e., 0.3 mg/dl, or 25 µmol/L) in blood creatinine concentration or decrease in urine production should be regarded as significant and promote reassessment of the treatment (refer to IRIS guidelines for grading AKI).
  4. Re-assess carefully the pre-treatment variables indicated in paragraph A, points 2 and 3.
  5. Repeat these assessments every 1-2 days to detect any change. If in doubt re renal damage, determine urine GGT / creatinine ratio (when available in the laboratory): an increase is an early indicator of nephrotoxicity. Novel kidney injury markers, such as neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (N-GAL) may prove more sensitive than GGT/creatinine ratio but to date are not commercially available.
  6. Continue monitoring for one week after discontinuing the treatment as AKI may occur later (aminoglycosides accumulate inside proximal tubular cells and persist for long periods after dosing).

D - If findings suggest development of AKI (urine: renal casts in sediment, glycosuria, low specific gravity; blood: azotemia):

  1. Stop aminoglycoside administration.
  2. Hospitalize the patient and monitor urine production. Non-oliguric AKI occurs generally and is reversible, whereas oliguric AKI has a poor prognosis.
  3. Start adequate intravenous fluid therapy.
  4. Monitor: urea, creatinine and electrolytes (hypokalemia is frequent in non-oliguric AKI and should be corrected).
  5. If AKI is worsening, consider renal replacement therapy (haemodialysis, haemofiltration, or peritoneal dialysis).
  6. After apparent recovery from aminoglycoside-induced AKI, some renal impairment is likely to remain.