Aim: Late referral of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients to nephrologists is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and is still quite common and seldom studied in Taiwan because of unique sociocultural factors. We aimed to study the decline in renal function and factors related to the change in renal function before and after referral.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the changes of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in 213 new referrals of patients with CKD stages 3-5 to the nephrology divisions of one medical centre and one regional hospital from 2001-2006. Data on demographics and laboratory investigations were collected for study.
Results: The rates of annual eGFR decline slowed significantly from -7.38 +/- 0.84 before referral to -1.02 +/- 0.45 mL/min per 1.73 m(2)/year after referral (mean +/- standard error of the mean, P < 0.001). The nephrology referral was the most significant factor associated with the slowing of renal function progression, as was younger age and female sex. After nephrology referral, patients with diabetes had an increase in eGFR compared to those without diabetes (P = 0.034). Patients had better control of diastolic blood pressure, sugar and lipid, more frequent use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers and statins, less frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and more serum creatinine measurements after nephrology referral.
Conclusion: Slowing renal functional decline in CKD patients after referral addresses the importance of nephrology referral for CKD care, which should be strongly promoted in CKD prevention projects in Taiwan.