Background: Late nephrological referral of chronic renal failure patients has been shown to be associated with high morbidity and short-term mortality on dialysis. However, the impact of predialysis nephrological care duration (PNCD) on the long-term survival of dialysis patients had not been evaluated.
Methods: We studied data from all 1057 consecutive patients who started dialysis treatment at the Necker Hospital from 1989 to 1998 (mean age at start of dialysis 53.8+/-17.2 years (range 18-91 years), excluding from analysis patients who presented with acute renal failure (n=60) or advanced malignancy (n=35). We evaluated the effects of PNCD and clinical risk factors on all-cause mortality after long-term follow-up on dialysis.
Results: Among the 1057 patients analysed (13.2% diabetics), PNCD was <6 months in 258 patients, 6-35 months in 267 patients, 36-71 months in 227 patients and >or=72 months in 307 patients. Cardiovascular (CV) morbidity, namely a history of myocardial or cerebral infarction, peripheral arteriopathy, and/or cardiac failure, before starting dialysis was 39.6% and 37.4%, respectively, in patients followed for <6 months or 6-35 months, compared with 24.4% in those followed for 36-71 months and 19.9% in those followed for >or=72 months (P<0.001). Five-year survival was significantly lower in patients with a PNCD of <6 months (59+/-4.1%) than for 36-71 months or >or=72 months (77.1+/-3.7 and 73.3+/-3.6%, respectively, P<0.001), but similar to those followed for 6-35 months (65.3+/-3.9%, NS). By Cox proportional hazard analysis, PNCD <6 months, age, diabetes and prior CV disease were independent predictive factors of all-cause death on dialysis.
Conclusions: This study provides suggestive evidence that longer duration of regular nephrological care in the predialysis period, at least for several years prior to the start of dialysis, is associated with a better long-term survival on dialysis. Such data strongly support the argument for early referral and regular nephrological care of chronic renal failure patients.