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Applying decision analysis to management of adolescent idiopathic nephrotic syndrome


Due to the concern that adolescents presenting with nephrotic syndrome are less likely to have minimal change disease than younger children, pediatric nephrologists have tended toward renal biopsy-tailored treatment rather than corticosteroid use in this population. The need for biopsy prior to treatment of nephrotic syndrome in adults has been challenged. A similar challenge to the clinical need for this procedure in adolescents with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome is raised here. The principles of medical decision analysis were applied and calculations were made with the Decision Maker computer program. The life expectancy of an adolescent who receives biopsytailored treatment was found to be no different from that of an adolescent who receives empiric corticosteroid treatment. We conclude that renal biopsy is not mandatory for the clinical management of adolescents with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome. Prognostically, a response, or lack thereof, to empiric corticosteroid therapy may be just as informative as a histological diagnosis.

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Correspondence to Marva M. Moxey-Mims.

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Moxey-Mims, M.M., Stapleton, F.B. & Feld, L.G. Applying decision analysis to management of adolescent idiopathic nephrotic syndrome. Pediatr Nephrol 8, 660–664 (1994).

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Key words

  • Adolescent
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Corticosteroids
  • Biopsy
  • Decision analysis