Background: Reports have shown that well-defined histological patterns do not always correspond to equally clear clinical pictures, particularly so in elderly patients.
Methods: With the aim of assessing clinicopathological correlations in the population aged >65 years with that of lower age, we retrospectively analyzed computerized records of renal needle biopsies consecutively performed in the decade 1991-2000 in our unit.
Results: Among the 392 eligible subjects, there were 150 patients 65 years of age and more, 76 of whom were over 70. The average serum creatinine was 2.9 mg/dl, with values > 3.5 mg/dl in 25% of cases. The major indication to biopsy was nephrotic syndrome followed by chronic renal failure both in the young adult and the elderly population. The rapidly progressive form led more often to renal biopsy in the elderly patients, and the different prevalence was statistically significant (p < 0.05), as was the higher prevalence of urinary anomalies in the young-adult population. Regarding renal histology, the crescentic necrotizing forms were significantly more frequent in the elderly patients, while IgAN, minimal change disease and SLE predominate in young adults. The most relevant result is the greater prevalence of crescentic necrotizing glomerulonephritis in elderly patients, not only in the cases presenting clinically as rapidly progressive renal failure and acute renal failure, but also in those with the clinical picture of chronic renal failure.
Conclusions: Re-evaluation of our case files verifies the importance of the bioptic approach in selected cases with stages 3-4 chronic kidney damage. This holds true especially for elderly patients.