This panel considered the clinical implications of nephrotoxicity due to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Although the clinical benefits and safety of these agents are well established, the drugs may adversely affect renal perfusion, electrolyte balance, and blood pressure in susceptible patients. The renal effects of these agents are directly related to their potency in inhibiting renal prostaglandins as reflected by inhibition of urinary prostaglandin excretion; however, none of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is completely free of the risk. Hyperkalemia is the most frequently observed adverse effect, most commonly occurring in patients with diabetes mellitus, patients with mild to moderate renal insufficiency, and patients receiving beta blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, or potassium-sparing agents. Patients at risk for the development of fluid retention and acute reductions in glomerular filtration rate include those with congestive heart failure, systemic lupus erythematosus, chronic glomerulonephritis, or liver failure with ascites, those receiving diuretics, premature infants, and possibly the elderly. Monitoring of serum creatinine and electrolyte levels, blood pressure, and body weight is suggested for susceptible patients receiving these agents.
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