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Oliguria and anuria are the decreased or absent production of urine, respectively. The decreased production of urine may be a sign of dehydration, renal failure or urinary obstruction/urinary retention.


Oliguria is defined as a urine output that is less than 1 mL/kg/h in infants, less than 0.5 mL/kg/h in children, and less than 400 mL/day (equals 17mL/hour) in adults.


The pathophysiologic mechanisms causing oliguria can be categorized globally in three different categories:

Postoperative oliguria

Patients usually have decrease in urine output after a major operation that may be a normal physiological response to:

  • fluid/ blood loss – decreased glomerular filtration rate secondary to hypovolemia and/or hypotension
  • response of adrenal cortex to stress -increase in aldosterone (Na and water retention) and antidiuretic hormone (ADH) release

Oliguria in infants

Oliguria, when defined as less than 1 mL/kg/h, in infants is not considered to be a reliable sign of renal failure.


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