Structured clinical follow-up for CKD stage 5 may safely postpone dialysis
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Background and objectives
The optimal timing of dialysis initiation is still unclear. We aimed to ascertain whether a strict clinical follow-up can postpone need for dialysis in chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 5 patients.
Design, setting, participants and measurements
We reviewed records of all consecutive adult patients attending our conservative CKD stage 5 outpatient clinic from 2001 to 2010. Chronicity was defined as two consecutive estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) measurements below 15 ml/min/1.73 m2. Characteristics of subjects, including comorbidities, were assessed at baseline; blood pressure and serum markers of uremia were assessed both at first and last visit. GFR was estimated by the 4-variable Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula.
In the 312 patients analyzed baseline eGFR was 9.7 ± 2.7 ml/min, which declined by 1.93 ± 4.56 ml/min after 15.6 ± 18.2 months. Age was inversely related to eGFR decline (r −0.27, p = 0.000). During conservative follow-up 55 subjects (18 %) died. In comparison with those eventually entering dialysis, deceased subjects were older and had a longer follow-up with no CKD progression. Multivariate analysis identified age, proteinuria and lower baseline K values as the only independent determinants of death. One hundred ninety-four subjects (66 %) started dialysis with an average eGFR of 6.1 ± 1.9 ml/min. During 35.8 ± 24.7 months of dialysis follow-up, 84 patients died. Multivariate analysis identified age as the main determinant of death (hazard ratio [HR] for every year 1.07, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.04–1.11, p 0.000). Patients starting dialysis with eGFR below the median, e.g. <5.7 ml/min, showed a better survival (HR for mortality 0.52, 95 % CI 0.30–0.89, p 0.016) than the other group.
A well-organized nephrological outpatient clinic for conservative follow-up of CKD stage five patients can delay dialysis entry as long as 1 year. Starting dialysis with eGFR lower than 6 ml/min does not confer any increased risk of death in selected early-referral patients.