Background: The contribution of nephrolithiasis-related end-stage renal disease (ESRD) to patients requiring renal replacement therapy has never been specifically evaluated.
Methods: Of the entire cohort of 1,391 consecutive patients who started maintenance dialysis therapy at our nephrology department between January 1989 and December 2000, a total of 45 patients (21 men) had renal stone disease as the cause of ESRD and constitute the study material. Type and cause of renal stone disease was determined in the 45 patients, as well as the change in prevalence of nephrolithiasis-related ESRD with time during this 12-year period.
Results: The overall proportion of nephrolithiasis-related ESRD was 3.2%. Infection (struvite) stones accounted for 42.2%; calcium stones, 26.7%; uric acid nephrolithiasis, 17.8%; and hereditary diseases (including primary hyperoxaluria type 1 and cystinuria), 13.3% of cases. Women were predominant among patients with infection and calcium stones, whereas men were predominant among patients with uric acid or hereditary stone disease. The proportion of patients with nephrolithiasis-related ESRD decreased from 4.7% in the triennial period 1989 to 1991 to 2.2% in the most recent period, 1998 to 2000 ( P = 0.07). This tendency to a decreasing prevalence mainly was caused by a rarefaction of infection and calcium stones with time, whereas frequencies of uric acid and hereditary stone disease remained essentially unchanged.
Conclusion: Severe forms of nephrolithiasis remain an underestimated cause of potentially avoidable ESRD and need for renal replacement therapy. These findings highlight the crucial importance of accurate stone analysis and metabolic evaluation to provide early diagnosis and proper therapy for conditions that may lead to ESRD through recurrent stone formation and/or parenchymal crystal infiltration.