End-stage renal disease preceded by rapid declines in kidney function: a case series

BMC Nephrol. 2011 Feb 1:12:5. doi: 10.1186/1471-2369-12-5.


Background: Few studies have defined alternate pathways by which chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients transition into end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Methods: We studied all consecutive patients initiated on maintenance hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis over several years at two dialysis units in Northern California. Rapid decline in kidney function was considered to have occurred if a patient was documented to have estimated GFR > 30 ml/min/1.73 m2 within three months prior to the initiation of chronic dialysis.

Results: We found that 8 out of 105 incident chronic dialysis patients one dialysis unit (7.6%; 95% confidence interval 3.4-14.5%) and 9 out of 71 incident patients at another (12.7%, 95% CI 6.0%-22.7%) suffered rapid decline in kidney function that was the immediate precipitant for the need for permanent renal replacement therapy. All these patients started hemodialysis and all relied on catheters for vascular access. Documentation submitted to United States Renal Data System did not fully reflect the health status of these patients during their "pre-ESRD" period.

Conclusions: A sizeable minority of ESRD cases are preceded by rapid declines in kidney function. The importance of these periods of rapid decline may have been under-appreciated in prior studies of the natural history of CKD and ESRD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors