Background: Improved early kidney transplant outcomes limit the contemporary utility of standard clinical endpoints. Quantifying the relationship of renal function at 1 year after transplant with subsequent clinical outcomes and healthcare costs may facilitate cost-benefit evaluations among transplant recipients.
Methods: Data for Medicare-insured kidney-only transplant recipients (1995-2003) were drawn from the United States Renal Data System. Associations of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) level at the first transplant anniversary with subsequent death-censored graft failure and patient death in posttransplant years 1 to 3 and 4 to 7 were examined by parametric survival analysis. Associations of eGFR with total health care costs defined by Medicare payments were assessed with multivariate linear regression.
Results: Among 38,015 participants, first anniversary eGFR level demonstrated graded associations with subsequent outcomes. Compared with patients with 12-month eGFR more than or equal to 60 mL/min/1.73 m, the adjusted relative risk of death-censored graft failure in years 1 to 3 was 31% greater for eGFR 45 to 59 mL/min/1.73 m (P<0.0001) and 622% greater for eGFR 15 to 30 mL/min/1.73 m (P<0.0001). Associations of first anniversary eGFR level with graft failure and mortality remained significant in years 4 to 7. The proportions of recipients expected to return to dialysis or die attributable to eGFR less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m over 10 years were 23.1% and 9.4%, respectively, and were significantly higher than proportions attributable to delayed graft function or acute rejection. Reduced eGFR was associated with graded and significant increases in health care spending during years 2 and 3 after transplant (P<0.0001).
Conclusion: eGFR is strongly associated with clinical and economic outcomes after kidney transplantation.