Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially life-threatening syndrome that can develop from a variety of causes; the classic triad of symptoms includes muscle pain, weakness, and dark urine and may not always be present in children [4
]. In 2006, an adult study showed that 45% presented with myalgia, 38% had muscle weakness and only 3.6% noted dark urine [12
]. In our study, we recorded 83.8% presented with myalgia, 73% had muscle weakness but dark urine was observed in only 5.4%. There was only one patient presented with the classic triad of symptoms. In our study, we also found the male to female ratio of pediatric rhabdomyolysis was 2.3:1. The result was similar to the two other studies of rhabdomyolysis which the male to female ratio were 2:1 and 4:1, respectively. [11
The etiologies of rhabdomyolysis can be classified as hereditary and acquired. The acquired causes are further classified as traumatic and non-traumatic [14
]. In pediatric patients, the most common causes are viral myositis, trauma, connective tissue disorders, seizure, physical exertion, and drug overdose [11
]. In our series, infections accounted for more than half (59.5%) of the causes of rhabdomyolysis, followed by trauma (16.2%) and exercise (16.2%). In patients that were 9 years old or younger, infections was the most common cause of rhabdomyolysis and accounted for 19 of 21 patients in this age group. However, the most common cause of rhabdomyolysis in patients older than 9 years was physical exertion. Rhabdomyolysis has been reported to be associated with a variety of viral infections, including influenza, [15
] Coxsackie virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), echovirus and cytomegalovirus [17
]. In our series, the definite viral infection was identified in 5 patients (influenza type B in 4, Coxsackie A10 in 1) and none of them were complicated with ARF. In these 6 patients that presented with rhabdomyolysis caused by trauma, traffic accident was the major cause and none of these 6 patients were complicated with ARF.
ARF is a major life-threatening complication of rhabdomyolysis and requires immediately adequate managements. Previous studies reported the rates of ARF secondary to rhabdomyolysis range from 17-35% in adults and from 42-50% in children [18
]. However, in the recently larger pediatric studies reported by Mannix et al [12
] and Wu et al [11
] it was shown that the rate of ARF with pediatric rhabdomyolysis ranged from 5–8.7 %. The indications for RRT include severe and resistant hyperkalemia, an abrupt increase in potassium levels, persistent metabolic acidosis, and ongoing ARF despite conservative treatment [22
]. Based on previous studies [11
], the rate of RRT was from 1.6-2.9% in children with rhabdomyolysis. In our study, we found a lower rate (8.1%) of ARF, and our series showed no one treated with RRT. The outcome of patients examined in this study was considered to be good.
To prevent ARF, the early recognition and appropriate treatment of rhabdomyolysis is vital. Furthermore, the predictors of ARF have been investigated in previous studies [3
]. Serum CK represents a more reliable marker than blood myoglobin for the diagnosis and assessment of the severity of rhabdomyolysis because it lasts for longer periods than blood myoglobin [3
]. However, elevated serum CK has not been shown to well correlate with the severity of ARF, [5
] although some studies showed a predictive correlation between CK and ARF [10
]. Our study also indicates that the initial and peak value of CK is not a good predictor of ARF. Below are some probable reasons to explain that the peak level of CK and myoglobine is higher in the non-ARF group as compared to the ARF group in our study. First, there was a small sample size included in our study which only contained 3 patients with ARF. Second, the laboratory data were not regularly followed up in all patients, and this may lead to difficulty in determining the definite peak data. Third, the pathophysiology of rhabdomyolysis is heterogeneous and this may cause the different appearance of laboratory data based on different etiologies of rhabdomyolysis. Moreover, the definite relationship between peak CK or myoglobin and ARF caused by different etiologies of rhabdomyolysis is not clear enough. A recent adult study, conducted by Kasaoka et al [25
], suggested that the serum myoglobin level on admission did not predict ARF, but that the peak value of serum myoglobin might be a predictive factor of ARF. The best cutoff value for serum myoglobin was 3865 ng/mL. But due to the relatively small sample size (30 patients), they could not make a definitive conclusion. However, our study showed no significant differences in laboratory findings that could help to predict ARF earlier in patients with rhabdomyolysis.
There is still a lack of randomized controlled trials for the best treatment in children with rhabdomyolysis to be conducted till now. However, regardless of underlying etiologies, the important aspects of treatments for rhabdomyolysis are considered to be conservative [6
]. Clinically, managements may include prompt and aggressive fluid resuscitation, prevention of progressing to ARF, early correction of potentially lethal electrolyte disturbance, correction of severe metabolic acidosis, and managements of other coexisting complications [6
]. In addition, for adults, the addition of mannitol and bicarbonate after the initial fluid resuscitation to prevent ARF has been recommended (especially for crush injury) in some studies [13
]. But, the role of mannitol or bicarbonate in the treatment for rhabdomyolysis in children remains controversial [26
]. Although causes of rhabdomyolysis are wide variety and the definite pathophysiology and development of ARF are complicated, the main therapeutic intervention to avoid ARF should be fluids and hydration [6
]. Therefore, once the diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis in children is made in the ED, aggressive intravenous fluid rehydration will be indicated.
The present study has a number of limitations. First, in a retrospective single center review of medical records, some details of history and physical examinations may not be rigorously documented. Second, the relatively small sample size may fail to address definitely predictive factors of ARF. Finally, the laboratory data were not regularly followed up in some patients and the definite peak data was therefore difficult to record. These limitations may have led to some bias in analyzing the clinical spectrum of rhabdomyolysis in children who presented to the ED.