Key messages

• Oliguria is a state in which the urine volume is less than 500 ml/day or less than 20 ml/h. Anuria applies to urine volumes below 50 to 100 ml/day.

• Prerenal azotemia should be suspected in all conditions characterized by hypovolemia.

• In elderly patients, whose kidneys are already nephrosclerotic, hypotension and markedly reduced renal perfusion may cause anuria for many hours.

• The absence of cellular elements in the urinary sediment or protein is most compatible with prerenal and postrenal azotemia.

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