Timing of dialysis initiation, duration and frequency of hemodialysis sessions, and membrane flux: a systematic review for a KDOQI clinical practice guideline

Am J Kidney Dis. 2015 Nov;66(5):823-36. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2014.11.031.


Background: In 2006, NKF-KDOQI (National Kidney Foundation-Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative) published clinical practice guidelines for hemodialysis adequacy. Recent studies evaluating hemodialysis adequacy as determined by initiation timing, frequency, duration, and membrane type and prompted an update to the guideline.

Study design: Systematic review and evidence synthesis.

Setting & population: Patients with advanced chronic kidney disease receiving hemodialysis.

Selection criteria for studies: We screened publications from 2000 to March 2014, systematic reviews, and references and consulted the NKF-KDOQI Hemodialysis Adequacy Work Group members. We included randomized or controlled clinical trials in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis if they reported outcomes of interest.

Interventions: Early versus late dialysis therapy initiation; more frequent (>3 times a week) or longer duration (>4.5 hours) compared to conventional hemodialysis; low- versus high-flux dialyzer membranes.

Outcomes: All-cause and cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke, hospitalizations, quality of life, depression or cognitive function scores, blood pressure, number of antihypertensive medications, left ventricular mass, interdialytic weight gain, and harms or complications related to vascular access or the process of dialysis.

Results: We included 32 articles reporting on 19 trials. Moderate-quality evidence indicated that earlier dialysis therapy initiation (at estimated creatinine clearance [eClcr] of 10-14mL/min) did not reduce mortality compared to later initiation (eClcr of 5-7mL/min). More than thrice-weekly hemodialysis and extended-length hemodialysis during a short follow-up did not improve clinical outcomes compared to conventional hemodialysis and resulted in a greater number of vascular access procedures (very low-quality evidence). Hemodialysis using high-flux membranes did not reduce all-cause mortality, but reduced cardiovascular mortality compared to hemodialysis using low-flux membranes (moderate-quality evidence).

Limitations: Few studies were adequately powered to evaluate mortality. Heterogeneity of study designs and interventions precluded pooling data for most outcomes.

Conclusions: Limited data indicate that earlier dialysis therapy initiation and more frequent and longer hemodialysis did not improve clinical outcomes compared to conventional hemodialysis.

Keywords: Hemodialysis (HD); National Kidney Foundation–Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF-KDOQI); blood pressure; chronic kidney disease (CKD); clinical outcomes; clinical practice guideline; dialysis frequency; dialysis initiation; dialysis membrane flux; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); hemodialysis adequacy; hemodialysis session duration; systematic review; volume control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Quality of Life
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome