Background: We previously reported that, while black patients have a better patient survival than white patients on peritoneal dialysis (PD), they also have a significantly higher technique failure rate (39% vs 8%, p < 0.0001). The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of technique failure/transfer to hemodialysis (HD) on patient survival in black PD patients.
Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 137 incident black patients entering our PD program from January 1987 to December 1997. During the course of follow-up, 82 (60%) patients remained on PD (PD group) while 55 (40%) patients were permanently transferred to HD (PD-HD group). The primary outcome measured was patient survival.
Results: Average age was 49 +/- 15 years, 42% were male, and 40% had diabetes mellitus. At baseline, serum creatinine was 10.8 +/- 5.4 mg/dL, serum albumin 3.4 +/- 0.7 g/dL, body mass index 27.3 +/- 6.5 kg/m2, peritoneal transport status was high in 18% and high-average in 61%, and residual glomerular filtration rate was 3.4 +/- 3.5 mL/minute. There were no significant differences in clinical features, nutritional status, peritoneal transport, residual renal function, or dialysis adequacy at baseline between the PD group and PD-HD group. While a greater proportion of patients transferring to HD had cardiac disease (53% vs 32%, p < 0.05), there were no other significant differences in 15 comorbid conditions assessed at baseline. The primary reason for transfer was peritonitis (64%) and the overall peritonitis rate in the PD-HD group was significantly higher than in the PD group (2.21 vs 1.17 episodes/patient-year, p < 0.0001). Overall follow-up was 34 +/- 25 months for PD group and 44 +/- 26 months for PD-HD group (p < 0.01), with a mean time on PD prior to transfer to HD of 22 +/- 18 months. During the course of follow-up, there were no significant differences between the two groups in the number of patients transplanted or deaths. Patient survival at 1, 2, and 5 years was 91%, 80%, and 57% for PD group and 96%, 92%, and 55% for PD-HD group [p = not significant (NS)]. A risk-adjusted time-dependent Cox regression analysis resulted in an adjusted relative risk of death that was not significantly different for those who transferred from PD to HD versus those who remained on PD (relative risk 1.49; 95% confidence interval 0.77-2.89; p = NS).
Conclusions: In black patients on PD, transfer to HD is not associated with any significant difference in patient survival compared to patients remaining on PD. While a high rate of peritonitis predisposes to technique failure, we found no features at baseline predictive of patients at greatest risk to fail PD. Since technique failure does not portend a poorer prognosis, PD remains a viable option for black patients entering an end-stage renal disease program.