Intermittent versus continuous renal replacement therapy for acute renal failure in adults

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD003773. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003773.pub3.


Background: Renal replacement therapy (RRT) for acute renal failure (ARF) can be applied intermittently (IRRT) or continuously (CRRT). It has been suggested that CRRT has several advantages over IRRT including better haemodynamic stability, lower mortality and higher renal recovery rates.

Objectives: To compare CRRT with IRRT to establish if any of these techniques is superior to each other in patients with ARF.

Search strategy: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). Authors of included studies were contacted, reference lists of identified studies and relevant narrative reviews were screened. Search date: October 2006.

Selection criteria: RCTs comparing CRRT with IRRT in adult patients with ARF and reporting prespecified outcomes of interest were included. Studies assessing CAPD were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors assessed trial quality and extracted data. Statistical analyses were performed using the random effects model and the results expressed as relative risk (RR) for dichotomous outcomes or mean difference (WMD) for continuous data with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Main results: We identified 15 studies (1550 patients). CRRT did not differ from IRRT with respect to in-hospital mortality (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.12), ICU mortality (RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.26), number of surviving patients not requiring RRT (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.07), haemodynamic instability (RR 0.48, 95% CI 0.10 to 2.28) or hypotension (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.16) and need for escalation of pressor therapy (RR 0.53, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.08). Patients on CRRT were likely to have significantly higher mean arterial pressure (MAP) (WMD 5.35, 95% CI 1.41 to 9.29) and higher risk of clotting dialysis filters (RR, 95% CI 8.50 CI 1.14 to 63.33).

Authors' conclusions: In patients who are haemodynamically stable, the RRT modality does not appear to influence important patient outcomes, and therefore the preference for CRRT over IRRT in such patients does not appear justified in the light of available evidence. CRRT was shown to achieve better haemodynamic parameters such as MAP. Future research should focus on factors such as the dose of dialysis and evaluation of newer promising hybrid technologies such as SLED. Triallists should follow the recommendations regarding clinical endpoints assessment in RCTs in ARF made by the Working Group of the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative Working Group.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Hemodiafiltration / methods
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / methods