Introduction: Cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury (CSA-AKI) is a common complication in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Preoperative renal functional reserve (RFR) has been demonstrated to be highly predictive of CSA-AKI. We have previously demonstrated that intraparenchymal renal resistive index variation (IRRIV) measured by ultrasound (US) can identify the presence of RFR in healthy individuals. This study aimed (1) to examine the correlation between the US IRRIV test and RFR measured through the protein loading test in patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery and (2) to determine the value of the 2 methods for predicting occurrence of AKI or subclinical AKI after cardiac surgery. Methods: Consecutive patients scheduled for cardiac surgery were enrolled for this pilot study. The protein loading test and the IRRIV test were performed in all patients 2 days before cardiac surgery. Correlation between IRRIV and RFR was tested using Pearson correlation analysis. Association between presence of RFR and positive IRRIV test, presence of RFR and AKI and subclinical AKI, and positive IRRIV test and AKI and subclinical AKI was evaluated using logistic regression analysis. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to evaluate the values of IRRIV for predicting RFR, RFR for predicting AKI and subclinical AKI, and IRRIV for predicting AKI and subclinical AKI. Results: Among the 31 patients enrolled, significant association was found between IRRIV and RFR (r = 0.81; 95% CI: 0.63–0.90; p < 0.01). The association between RFR and IRRIV was described in 27/31 (87.1%) patients. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of the IRRIV test were 100, 84, 60, and 100%, respectively. In ROC curve analysis, the area under the curve (AUC) was 0.80 (95% CI: 0.64–0.96). After cardiac surgery, 1/31 (3.2%) patient had AKI and 12/31 (38.7%) had subclinical AKI. RFR predicted subclinical AKI (odds ratio [OR] = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87–0.98; p = 0.02). The sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV of the RFR were 61, 88.8, 80, and 76%, respectively; the AUC was 0.75 (95% CI: 0.59–0.91). IRRIV predicts subclinical AKI (OR = 0.79; 95% CI: 0.67–0.93; p = 0.005). The sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV of the IRRIV test were 46.1, 100, 100, and 72%, respectively; the AUC was 0.73 (95% CI: 0.58–0.87). Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that a positive IRRIV test can significantly predict the presence of RFR in patients scheduled for cardiac surgery. RFR measured by the protein loading test or by the US IRRIV test can predict the occurrence of subclinical postoperative AKI. The findings of this study need to be confirmed in large patient cohorts.

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