Objective: It is known that renal failure is a poor prognostic marker for survival in Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). We investigated the longterm outcome of patients with WG who have severe renal disease requiring dialysis.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 104 patients with WG followed at our institution between 1982 and 1997. Twenty-three patients who required dialysis were studied in detail to determine outcomes and factors that influenced survival and restoration of renal function.
Results: Of 23 dialysis dependent patients with WG, 11 died (Group 1). 7 either remained dialysis dependent or received successful renal transplants (Group 2), and 5 substantially recovered renal function (Group 3). Mean serum creatinine at the end of a mean followup period of 38.4 months for Group 3 was 1.8 mg/dl. There was no apparent difference between groups in regard to disease profile, e.g., distribution of organ involvement or serum creatinine when renal impairment was first recognized (mean serum creatinine for groups: 1: 3.0 mg/dl; 2: 5.6 mg/dl; 3: 5.5 mg/dl) and peak serum creatinine prior to dialysis (means for groups: 1: 9.5 mg/dl; 2: 10.5 mg/dl; 3: 9.6 mg/dl). Infection secondary to immunosuppression was the leading cause of death in Group I patients.
Conclusion: Because the clinical profile and degree of renal failure, as judged by serum creatinine, did not differ among patients who did or did not regain dialysis independent renal function, we recommend aggressive immunosuppressive therapy in all cases of active WG with acute rapidly worsening renal failure, regardless of the severity of renal impairment.