The importance of residual renal function in dialysis patients

Kidney Int. 2006 May;69(10):1726-32. doi: 10.1038/


Preserving residual renal function has always been the primary clinical goal for every nephrologist managing patients with chronic kidney disease. There is no reason why this important goal should not extend to patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease receiving dialysis. Indeed, there is now clear evidence that preserving residual renal function remains important after the commencement of dialysis. Residual renal function contributes significantly to the overall health and well-being of dialysis patients. It not only provides small solute clearance but also plays an important role in maintaining fluid balance, phosphorus control, and removal of middle molecular uremic toxins, and shows strong inverse relationships with valvular calcification and cardiac hypertrophy in dialysis patients. Decline of residual renal function also contributes significantly to anemia, inflammation, and malnutrition in patients on dialysis. More importantly, the loss of residual renal function, especially in patients on peritoneal dialysis, is a powerful predictor of mortality. In addition, there is increasing evidence that residual renal and peritoneal dialysis clearance cannot be assumed to be equivalent qualitatively, thus indicating the need to preserve residual renal function in patients on dialysis. In this article, we will review evidence that residual renal function is important in dialysis patients (especially peritoneal dialysis) and outline potential strategies that may better preserve residual renal function in dialysis patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Peritoneal Dialysis*