Objective: El Salvador is a country with high mortality from end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The objective of this study was to determine the epidemiological characteristics of a series of new cases of ESRD seen in a referral hospital in the country.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of all the new cases that initiated chronic dialysis between November 1999 and March 2000. Using a personal interview, data were obtained on the patients' clinical, demographic, and occupational characteristics, among others.
Results: During the five months that the study lasted, 205 new cases of ESRD were observed. Among the 202 interviewees, two groups were clearly distinguished. One group, of 67 patients (33%), had known risk factors for ESRD, similar to those for developed countries (basically, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and chronic consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). Another group of 135 patients (67%) had unusual characteristics that were not associated with the known risk factors. The majority of the patients in this second group were male, farmers, residents of coastal areas or areas next to rivers, and some years before had been exposed, without adequate protection, to agricultural insecticides or pesticides through their work.
Conclusions: We have identified an important group of patients with ESRD who seem to lack a cause for their disease. Their special characteristics make it possible to suspect a relationship with the occupational exposure to insecticides or pesticides. New studies are needed in order to confirm this hypothesis.