Bilateral nephrectomy stopped disease progression in plasma-resistant hemolytic uremic syndrome with neurological signs and coma

Giuseppe Remuzzi, Miriam Galbusera, Maurizio Salvadori, Gianfranco Rizzoni, Simona Paris, Piero Ruggenenti

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Four women were admitted over three years because of anemia and renal failure. They had evidence of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) with severe vascular involvement and glomerular collapse. Despite intensive plasma exchange, all patients developed neurologic signs (with seizures and coma in 2) and papilledema. Three developed refractory hypertension and three required dialysis. All patients had abnormal von Willebrand factor (vWF) fragmentation as reflected by decreased high molecular weight and increased low molecular weight vWF multimers in the circulation. Assuming that the disease was sustained by shear stress-induced abnormal vWF fragmentation in damaged renal microvasculature, bilateral nephrectomy was done. Surgery was followed within two weeks by complete hematologic and clinical remission consistently associated with the restoring of vWF fragmentation pathway to normal. We speculate that in HUS resistant to plasma exchange or infusion, removing the kidneys eliminates a major site of vWF fragmentation, which would limit platelet activation and protect patients from the further spreading of microvascular lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-286
Number of pages5
JournalKidney International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology

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