Background: Recent reports have suggested the possible benefit of beginning hemodialysis (HD) at a rate less frequent than three times weekly and incrementally increasing the dialysis dose. However, the data regarding the benefits and safety of incremental HD are insufficient.
Methods: We analyzed 927 patients with newly initiated HD from the Clinical Research Center for End-Stage Renal Disease cohort from 2008 to 2014. The patients were classified into a thrice-weekly initiation group or an incremental initiation group (one to two sessions per week) according to the frequency of HD per week at baseline. We compared health-related quality of life (HRQOL), daily urine volume at 12 months and all-cause mortality between the groups. We matched the thrice-weekly and incremental groups at a 1:2 ratio using propensity score matching.
Results: A total of 312 patients (207 in the thrice-weekly group and 105 in the incremental group) were selected. All-cause mortality was comparable between the two groups before and after propensity score matching. The HRQOL tended to be better in the incremental group for the majority of domains of the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form and Beck's Depression Inventory; however, only the symptoms and problems domain was significantly better in the incremental group at 3 months after HD. At 12 months after HD, there were no differences between the groups. The daily urine volume at 12 months after HD was similar between the two groups.
Conclusions: Incremental HD initiation showed comparable results to thrice-weekly initiation for HRQOL, residual renal function and all-cause mortality. Incremental HD may be considered an additional option for HD initiation in selected patients.
Keywords: chronic kidney failure; depression; dialysis; propensity score; quality of life.