Serum creatinine level, a surrogate of muscle mass, predicts mortality in critically ill patients

Charat Thongprayoon, Wisit Cheungpasitporn, Kianoush Kashani


Serum creatinine (SCr) has been widely used to estimate glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Creatinine generation could be reduced in the setting of low skeletal muscle mass. Thus, SCr has also been used as a surrogate of muscle mass. Low muscle mass is associated with reduced survival in hospitalized patients, especially in the intensive care unit (ICU) settings. Recently, studies have demonstrated high mortality in ICU patients with low admission SCr levels, reflecting that low muscle mass or malnutrition, are associated with increased mortality. However, SCr levels can also be influenced by multiple GFR- and non-GFR-related factors including age, diet, exercise, stress, pregnancy, and kidney disease. Imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound, have recently been studied for muscle mass assessment and demonstrated promising data. This article aims to present the perspectives of the uses of SCr and other methods for prediction of muscle mass and outcomes of ICU patients.