Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle (Ancient Greek: rhabdomyo-) tissue breaks down rapidly (Greek –lysis). This damage may be caused by physical (e.g. crush injury), chemical, or biological factors. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream; some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidney and may lead to kidney dysfunction. The severity of the symptoms (which may include muscle pains, vomiting and confusion) depends on the extent of the muscle damage, and whether kidney failure develops. The mainstay of treatment is generous intravenous fluids, but could include dialysis or hemofiltration.
Rhabdomyolysis and its complications are significant problems for those injured in disasters such as earthquakes and bombing. Relief efforts in areas struck by earthquakes often include medical teams with skills and equipment for treatment of survivors with rhabdomyolysis. The disease and its mechanisms were first fully elucidated during the Blitz of London in 1941.