Adverse Effects of Sporadic Dialysis on Body Composition

Nephron. 2015;131(1):73-7. doi: 10.1159/000439201. Epub 2015 Aug 29.


Objective: The aim of this study is to analyze the body composition of patients receiving emergent dialysis and compare their body cell mass (BCM) and fat-free mass (FFM) with those of normal subjects. The care of patients receiving sporadic, emergent dialysis treatment is a growing public health concern and the magnitude of muscle wasting that occurs in this population is not known.

Design and methods: We used a cross-sectional design with matching to determine differences in total body potassium--an indicator of both BCM and FFM--between emergent dialysis patients and healthy normal subjects. We studied 22 subjects using a 40K counter that measures BCM and FFM and compared them to controls after matching with sex, height and weight.

Results: In the matched comparison, BCM and FFM were significantly lower in subjects with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Unadjusted BCM was 4.7 kg lower and FFM was 8.8 kg lower for those with ESRD compared to those without ESRD (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, respectively). Comparison with unmatched controls who underwent 40K analysis also revealed significantly lower BCM (4.1 kg) and FFM (7.7 kg) in the ESRD subjects (p = 0.004). After adjusting for age, height, weight and gender, BCM and FFM were lower by 4.2 and 7.8 kg, respectively (p < 0.001). Repeated observations were available for a subset of ESRD subjects, and the rate of FFM loss over time was significant, with the ESRD subjects demonstrating 2.2 kg per year decline (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: We conclude that among other consequences, muscle wasting indicated by decline in BCM and FFM is a significant concern in the growing emergent dialysis population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Potassium Radioisotopes
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Wasting Syndrome / etiology
  • Wasting Syndrome / pathology


  • Potassium Radioisotopes
  • Potassium