The significance of minimal increases in serum creatinine below the levels indicative of the acute kidney injury (AKI) stage is not well established. We aimed to investigate the influence of pre-stage AKI (pre-AKI) on clinical outcomes. We enrolled a total of 21,261 patients who were admitted to the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. Pre-AKI was defined as a 25±50% increase in peak serum creatinine levels from baseline levels during the hospital stay. In total, 5.4% of the patients had pre-AKI during admission. The patients with pre-AKI were predominantly female (55.0%) and had a lower body weight and lower baseline levels of serum creatinine (0.63 ± 0.18 mg/dl) than the patients with AKI and the patients without AKI (P < 0.001). The patients with pre-AKI had a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus (25.1%) and malignancy (32.6%). The adjusted hazard ratio of in-hospital mortality for pre-AKI was 2.112 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.143 to 3.903]. In addition, patients with pre-AKI had an increased length of stay (7.7 ± 9.7 days in patients without AKI, 11.4 ± 11.4 days in patients with pre-AKI, P < 0.001) and increased medical costs (4,061 ± 4,318 USD in patients without AKI, 4,966 ± 5,099 USD in patients with pre-AKI, P < 0.001) during admission. The adjusted hazard ratio of all-cause mortality for pre-AKI during the follow-up period of 2.0 ± 0.6 years was 1.473 (95% CI, 1.228 to 1.684). Although the adjusted hazard ratio of pre-AKI for overall mortality was not significant among the patients admitted to the surgery department or who underwent surgery, pre-AKI was significantly associated with mortality among the non-surgical patients (adjusted HR 1.542 [95% CI, 1.330 to 1.787]) and the patients admitted to the medical department (adjusted HR 1.384 [95% CI, 1.153 to 1.662]). Pre-AKI is associated with increased mortality, longer hospital stay, and increased medical costs during admission. More attention should be paid to the clinical significance of pre-AKI.
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