Two patients developed acute renal failure; creatinine clearances fell to 13 and 34 ml/min, respectively, and one patient was oliguric. Renal biopsies in both patients gave results that were compatible with rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN). Both patients were treated with low-dosage heparin sodium infusion (8,000 units/day) and prednisone for two to four weeks, followed by oral anticoagulant (warfarin) and antithrombotic agents (dipyridamole). In the two patients, creatinine clearance rose to at least 60 ml/min, and no bleeding complications were observed. Repeat renal biopsy specimens that were obtained after three to six months of treatment showed no evidence of active glomerulonephritis in either patient, but there was extensive scarring and fibrosis.
Low-dosage heparin infusion may arrest and partially reverse the renal failure associated with RPGN in some cases, while avoiding the bleeding complications that are frequently observed in patients treated with larger dosages of heparin.
(Arch Intern Med 136:995-999, 1976)