Causes and outcome of late referral of children who develop end-stage kidney disease

J Paediatr Child Health. 2012 Mar;48(3):253-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02254.x. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Aims: This study aims to characterise the timing of referral to a paediatric nephrology unit of children who develop end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). This study also aims to determine whether late referral (LR) influences outcomes and to explore factors that may lead to LR.

Methods: A retrospective case review of all incident patients with ESKD who received renal replacement therapy (RRT) at a single paediatric centre. Time between referral to a paediatric nephrologist and commencement of RRT, demographic and clinical data were collated. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at referral was calculated using height and creatinine. LR was defined as having an eGFR ≤ 30 mL/min/1.73 m(2) when first seen by a paediatric nephrologist.

Results: RRT was initiated for 74 patients < 18 years of age between 1988 and 2010. The median age at referral was 2.0 years (birth-15.9 years) and age at RRT was 10.0 years (6 days-17.4 years). Children referred before age 1 year (41%) had a more prolonged course before ESKD. Median (interquartile range) eGFR at referral of children > 1 year was 27.2 (9.0-52.0) mL/min/1.73 m(2) . Twenty-two (55%) of these children were referred late (LR) with an eGFR ≤ 30 mL/min/1.73 m(2) . LR patients were more likely to have glomerulonephritis or haemolytic uraemic syndrome and to live in a remote or outer regional area. LR patients had higher urea, lower haemoglobin and were more likely to receive haemodialysis via a vascular catheter.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of children who develop ESKD are referred late to nephrology units with potentially preventable complications. Aetiology of renal disease and geographic isolation contribute to LR.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delayed Diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies