Renal replacement therapy in the elderly: medical, ethical, and psychosocial considerations

Adv Ren Replace Ther. 2000 Jan;7(1):52-62. doi: 10.1016/s1073-4449(00)70006-9.


As patients over the age of 65 become the fastest growing segment of our treated end-stage renal disease (ESRD) population, nephrologists and allied healthcare workers who care for these patients must become well versed in the many issues specific to this group. Elderly patients contribute the greatest fraction to the incidence and prevalence of the United States ESRD population. Their life expectancy is greatly reduced compared with age-matched counterparts from the general population. Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death. Although renal transplantation remains the most successful form of renal replacement therapy, only a small fraction of elderly ESRD patients are transplanted. The renal research community has made great strides in improving patient outcomes on dialysis over the last decade in many areas; however, little attention has been focused on the elderly ESRD patient. The substantial mortality and comorbidity experienced by this population makes their management an ongoing challenge. Many unresolved issues remain for elderly ESRD patients in the timing of dialysis initiation, choice of dialytic therapy, use of renal transplantation, and management of cardiovascular disease. It is anticipated that future research in these areas will identify optimal treatment strategies for elderly ESRD patients starting on dialysis and improve patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Prevalence
  • Psychology
  • Renal Replacement Therapy*
  • United States