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Rhabdomyolysis is a process in which dying muscle cells cause the toxic buildup of certain substances in the blood. Some of these substances are creatine, myoglobin, aldolase, potassium, and lactate dehydrogenase. Left untreated, rhabdomyolysis can cause life-threatening damage to body organs, including kidney failure.
Rhabdomyolysis can be caused by a variety of problems, including:
Early symptoms are often subtle. Muscle weakness, pain, tenderness, and stiffness may develop along with fever, nausea, confusion, and a general ill feeling (malaise). Urine may also be noticeably dark.
Treatment for rhabdomyolysis includes removing the cause of the muscle cell destruction whenever possible, such as by stopping certain medicines. Measures to help the kidneys remove the buildup of toxins and other chemicals, such as providing plenty of fluids, is also important. Other treatment (such as dialysis) may be needed if rhabdomyolysis is severe.
Last Revised: June 29, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology & Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
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