Background: The normalized treatment ratio [Kt/V = the ratio of the urea clearance x time product to total body water] and the urea reduction ratio (URR) have become widely accepted measures of dialysis dose. Both are related to and derived from pharmacokinetic models of blood urea concentration during the dialysis cycle. Theoretical reconsideration of the models revealed that the premise about V on which they rest (that is, that V is a passive diluent with no survival-associated properties of its own) is flawed if the intended use of the models is for profiling clinical outcome (for example, mortality) rather than estimating urea concentration. As a proxy for body mass, V has survival-associated properties of its own. Thus, indexing clearance x time to body size could create an offsetting combination whereby one measure favorably associated with survival (Kt) is divided by another (for example, V). Observed clinical paradoxes support that interpretation. For example, patients with a low body mass have both higher URR and higher mortality than heavier patients. Increasing mortality is often observed at high URR, suggesting the possibility of "over-dialysis." Black patients tend to be treated at lower URR than whites but enjoy better survival on dialysis. Therefore, clearance x time was evaluated as an outcome-based measure of dialysis dose, not indexed to V, and various body size estimates were evaluated as separate and distinct measures.
Methods: The retrospective sample included 17,141 black and white hemodialysis patients treated three times per week. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate death odds in age-, gender-, race-, and diabetes-adjusted models. Kt and five body size estimates (total body water or V, body weight, body weight adjusted for height, body surface area, and body mass index) were evaluated using two analytical strategies. First, all of the measures were treated as continuous variables to explore different statistical models. Second, Kt and the body size measures were divided into groups to construct risk profiles.
Results: All evaluations revealed improving death odds with increasing Kt (whether adjusted for the body size estimates or not) and also with increasing body size (whether adjusted for Kt or not) for each estimate of size. Significant statistical interactions of Kt with gender, but not Kt with race, were observed in all models. There were no statistical interactions, suggesting that higher Kt was routinely required with increasing body size. Separate risk profiles for males and females suggested a higher Kt threshold for males.
Conclusions: The urea clearance x time is a valid outcome-based measure of dialysis dose and is not confounded by indexing it to an estimate of body size, which has outcome-associated properties of its own. Dialysis prescriptions for males and females should be regarded separately, but there appears no need to make a distinction between the races.