Maintaining blood pressure while protecting the kidney during open heart surgery and sepsis

Years funded:
2018 - 2021

Acute kidney injury is defined as a ‘sudden loss in our kidney function’. Unfortunately, acute kidney injury develops in 30% of patients following open heart surgery (about 3,000 cases in Australia per year). 
Up to 50% of patients who acquire severe infections (called ‘sepsis’) also develop acute kidney injury (about 7,500 cases in Australia per year). 

Even mild episodes of acute kidney injury lead to a greater chance of dying in hospital, longer stays in hospital, and results in increased healthcare costs (more than $400 million in Australia per year). 
There are no effective ways to prevent acute kidney injury after open heart surgery or sepsis due to our poor understanding of the underlying causes and, inability to assess risk of kidney injury before it is too late to intervene.

Dr Yugeesh Lankadeva’s research will use established clinically relevant sheep models of open heart surgery and sepsis. 

Based on strong pilot clinical and experimental data Dr Lankadeva will examine: 
 (i) whether reduced oxygen levels in the inner part of the kidney (called ‘medulla’) cause acute kidney injury, 
 (ii) whether medullary oxygen levels can be reliably estimated by monitoring oxygen levels in the urine (using a device we have now applied in patients undergoing heart surgery and with sepsis) and 
 (iii) whether existing therapies can be modified to improve blood flow, and therefore oxygen levels to the kidney.


Dr Lankadeva’s vision is to develop a novel strategy to prevent acute kidney injury resulting from open heart surgery and sepsis, with immediate translational potential to improve health outcomes for patients, both in terms of diagnosis and treatment. 
Prevention of acute kidney injury is a healthcare priority, because survivors of even short-term episodes of acute kidney injury are at a long-term risk of developing chronic and end-stage kidney disease, which are well known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Researcher Profile

Dr Yugeesh Lankadeva

Institute: University of Melbourne
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