Learn About Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome

What is the definition of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

Shiga-like toxin producing E coli hemolytic-uremic syndrome (STEC-HUS) is a disorder that most often occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances. These substances destroy red blood cells and cause kidney injury.

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What are the alternative names for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

HUS; STEC-HUS; Hemolytic-uremic syndrome

What are the causes of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) often occurs after a gastrointestinal infection with E coli bacteria (Escherichia coli O157:H7). However, the condition has also been linked to other gastrointestinal infections, including shigella and salmonella. It has also been linked to nongastrointestinal infections.

HUS is most common in children. It is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children. Several large outbreaks have been linked to undercooked hamburger meat contaminated with E coli.

E coli can be transmitted through:

  • Contact from one person to another
  • Consuming uncooked food, such as milk products or beef

STEC-HUS is not to be confused with atypical HUS (aHUS) which is not infection-related. It is similar to another disease called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

What are the symptoms of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

STEC-HUS often begins with vomiting and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Within a week, the person may become weak and irritable. People with this condition may urinate less than normal. Urine output may almost stop.

Red blood cell destruction leads to symptoms of anemia.

Early symptoms:

  • Blood in the stools
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weakness

Later symptoms:

  • Bruising
  • Decreased consciousness
  • Low urine output
  • No urine output
  • Pallor
  • Seizures -- rare
  • Skin rash that looks like fine red spots (petechiae)
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What are the current treatments for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

Treatment may involve:

  • Dialysis
  • Medicines, such as corticosteroids
  • Management of fluids and electrolytes
  • Transfusions of packed red blood cells and platelets
Who are the top Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Hematology Oncology

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

The James Cancer Hospital And Solove Research Institute

460 W 10th Ave 
Columbus, OH 43210

Spero Cataland is a Hematologist and a Hematologist Oncology doctor in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Cataland has been practicing medicine for over 28 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 21 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are D-Plus Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, and Purpura. He is licensed to treat patients in Ohio. Dr. Cataland is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in

Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico

Milan, IT 

Gianluigi Ardissino is in Milan, Italy. Ardissino is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, D-Plus Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, D-Minus Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, and Thrombocytopenia.

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Highly rated in

Radboud Institute For Molecular Life Sciences, Amalia Children's Hospital, Radboud University Medical Center

Nijmegen, GE, NL 

Nicole Van De Kar is in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Van De Kar is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome. She is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are D-Plus Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome, D-Minus Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, and Thrombocytopenia.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

This is a serious illness in both children and adults, and it can cause death. With proper treatment, more than half of people will recover. The outcome is better in children than adults.

What are the possible complications of Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

Complications may include:

  • Blood clotting problems
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypertension leading to seizures, irritability, and other nervous system problems
  • Too few platelets (thrombocytopenia)
  • Uremia
When should I contact a medical professional for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of HUS. Emergency symptoms include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • No urination
  • Reduced alertness (consciousness)

Call your provider if you have had an episode of HUS and your urine output decreases, or you develop other new symptoms.

How do I prevent Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?

You can prevent the known cause, E coli, by cooking hamburger and other meats well. You should also avoid contact with unclean water and follow proper hand washing methods.

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What are the latest Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome Clinical Trials?
Single Arm Study of ALXN1210 in Complement Inhibitor Treatment-naïve Adult and Adolescent Patients With Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS)
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Coordination of Rare Diseases at Sanford
What are the Latest Advances for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome?
Oxaliplatin-induced thrombotic microangiopathy: a case report.
Interventions for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli gastroenteritis and risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome: A population-based matched case control study.
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Functional Analysis of Variants in Complement Factor I Identified in Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : February 06, 2020
Published By : Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Alexander T, Licht C, Smoyer WE, Rosenblum ND. Diseases of the kidney and upper urinary tract in children. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap: 72.

Mele C, Noris M, Remuzzi G. Hemolytic uremic syndrome. In: Ronco C, Bellomo R, Kellum JA, Ricci Z, eds. Critical Care Nephrology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 50.

Schneidewend R, Epperla N, Friedman KD. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and the hemolytic uremic syndromes. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 134.