Ultrasound treatments could be used to prevent a common kidney complication than can arise after major surgery, researchers suggest. The work, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, was carried out on mice.
But the researchers said there could be a "rapid translation" to human studies because the treatment for acute kidney injury (AKI) was simple and routine. Experts said the study suggested potential for new therapies.
AKI is the sudden loss of kidney function, which can easily develop in any sick person through infection such as pneumonia, diarrhoea or a heart attack. AKI can develop after major surgery, such as some kinds of heart surgery, because the kidneys can be deprived of normal blood flow during the procedure.
Once it has developed, there are few treatment options.
The University of Virginia team exposed anesthetised mice to ultrasound using a routine clinical imaging system 24 hours before disrupting the blood supply to the kidneys.
They then found the mice still had healthy kidneys after blood flow was restored.