No survival benefit from early-start dialysis in a population-based, inception cohort study of Swedish patients with chronic kidney disease

J Intern Med. 2011 Mar;269(3):289-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02280.x. Epub 2010 Sep 10.


Objective: To investigate how the timing of dialysis initiation is associated with mortality.

Design: Population-based, prospective, observational cohort study.

Setting: Clinical laboratories (n = 69) provided information on all patients in Sweden whose serum creatinine level for the first time and exceeded 3.4 mg dL(-1) (men) or 2.8 mg dL(-1) (women) between 20 May 1996 and 31 May 1998.

Subjects: All patients (n = 901), aged 18-74 years, in whom the cause of serum creatinine elevation was chronic kidney disease, were included in the study; participants were interviewed and followed for 5-7 years.

Main outcome measures: Information on date of death was obtained from a national Swedish population register. Early-start dialysis [estimated glomerular filtration rate from serum creatinine (eGFR) ≥7.5 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2)] was compared to late start of dialysis (eGFR <7.5 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2)), and no dialysis. Relative risk [hazard ratio (HR)] of death was modelled with time-dependent multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: Mean eGFR was 16.1 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2) at inclusion and 7.6 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2) at the start of dialysis. Among the 385 patients who started dialysis late, 36% died during follow-up compared to 52% of 323 who started early. The adjusted HR for death was 0.84 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.64, 1.10] among late versus early starters. The mortality among nondialysed patients increased significantly at eGFR below 7.5 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2) (HR 4.65; 95% CI 2.28, 9.49; compared to eGFR 7.5-10 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2)). After the start of dialysis, the mortality rate further increased. Compared to nondialysed patients with eGFR ≤15 mL min(-1) per 1.73 m(2), adjusted HR was 2.65 (95% CI 1.80, 3.89) for patients receiving dialysis.

Conclusion: We found no survival benefit from early initiation of dialysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult