Outcomes associated with intradialytic oral nutritional supplements in patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis: a quality improvement report

Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Oct;60(4):591-600. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.04.019. Epub 2012 May 24.


Background: Insufficient clinical data exist to determine whether provision of oral nutritional supplements during dialysis can improve survival in hypoalbuminemic maintenance hemodialysis patients.

Study design: Retrospective matched-cohort study.

Setting & participants: All oral nutritional supplement program-eligible in-center maintenance hemodialysis patients with albumin level ≤3.5 g/dL in quarter 4 of 2009 without oral nutritional supplements in the prior 90 days at Fresenius Medical Care, North America facilities.

Quality improvement plan: Monitored intradialytic oral nutritional supplements were provided to eligible maintenance hemodialysis patients upon physician order, to continue for a year or until serum albumin level was ≥4.0 g/dL.

Outcome: Mortality (including deaths and withdrawals), followed up until December 31, 2010.

Measurements: Both an intention-to-treat (ITT) and an as-treated analysis was performed using a 1:1 geographic region and propensity score-matched study population (using case-mix, laboratory test, access type, 30-day prior hospitalization, and incident patient status) comparing patients treated with intradialytic oral nutritional supplements with usual-care patients. Cox models were constructed, unadjusted and adjusted for facility standardized mortality ratio and case-mix and laboratory variables.

Results: The ITT and as-treated analyses both showed lower mortality in the oral nutritional supplement group. The conservative ITT models with 5,227 matched pairs had 40% of controls subsequently receiving oral nutritional supplements after January 1, 2010 (because many physicians delayed participation), with comparative death rates of 30.1% versus 30.4%. The corresponding as-treated (excluding crossovers) death rates for 4,289 matched pairs were 30.9% versus 37.3%. The unadjusted ITT mortality HR for oral nutritional supplement use was 0.95 (95% CI, 0.88-1.01), and the adjusted HR was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.85-0.98); the corresponding as-treated HRs were 0.71 (95% CI, 0.66-0.76) and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.61-0.71) before and after adjustment, respectively.

Limitations: Limited capture of oral nutritional supplement intake outside the facility and potential residual confounding from unmeasured variables, such as dietary intake.

Conclusions: Maintenance hemodialysis patients with albumin levels ≤3.5 g/dL who received monitored intradialytic oral nutritional supplements showed survival significantly better than similar matched patient controls, with the as-treated analysis highlighting the potentially large effect of this strategy in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoalbuminemia / etiology
  • Hypoalbuminemia / mortality*
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Improvement
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serum Albumin