Background: One of the most dreaded complications of septic shock is acute kidney injury. It occurs in around 50% of patients, with a mortality rate of about 60% at 3 months. There is no consensus on the optimal time to initiate renal replacement therapy. Retrospective and observational studies suggest that early implementation of renal replacement therapy could improve the prognosis for these patients.
Methods/design: This protocol summarizes the rationale and design of a randomized, controlled, multicenter trial investigating the effect of early versus delayed renal replacement therapy in patients with severe acute kidney injury in early septic shock. In total, 864 critically ill adults with septic shock and evidence of acute kidney injury, defined as the failure stage of the RIFLE classification, will be enrolled. The primary outcome is mortality at 90 days. Secondary outcomes include safety, number of days free of mechanical ventilation, number of days free of renal replacement therapy, intensive care length of stay, in-hospital length of stay, quality of life as evaluated by the EQ-5D and renal replacement therapy dependence at hospital discharge. The primary analysis will be intention to treat. Recruitment started in March 2012 and will be completed by March 2015.
Discussion: This protocol for a randomized controlled study investigating the impact of the timing of renal replacement therapy initiation should provide an answer to a key question for the management of patients with acute kidney injury in the context of septic shock, for whom the mortality rate remains close to 60% despite improved understanding of physiopathology and recent therapeutic advances.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01682590, registered on 10 September 2012.