Incremental dialysis in ESRD: systematic review and meta-analysis

J Nephrol. 2019 Oct;32(5):823-836. doi: 10.1007/s40620-018-00577-9. Epub 2019 Jan 2.


Background: Incremental dialysis may preserve residual renal function and improve survival in comparison with full-dose dialysis; however, available evidence is limited. We therefore compared all-cause mortality and residual kidney function (RKF) loss in incremental and full-dose dialysis and time to full-dose dialysis in incremental hemodialysis (IHD) and incremental peritoneal dialysis (IPD).

Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies of adults with ESRD starting IHD and IPD. We identified in PubMed and Web of Science database all cohort studies evaluating incremental dialysis evaluating three outcomes: all-cause mortality, RKF loss, time to full dialysis. IPD was defined as < 3 daily dwells in Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis and < 5 sessions per week in Automated Peritoneal Dialysis, while IHD was defined as < 3 HD sessions per week.

Results: 22 studies (75,292 participants), 15 in HD and 7 in PD, were analyzed. Mean age at dialysis start was 62 and 57 years in IHD and IPD subjects, respectively. When compared to full dose, incremental dialysis (IHD or IPD) had an overall mortality risk of 1.14 [95% CI 0.85-1.52] with high heterogeneity among studies (I2 86%, P < 0.001), and lower mean RKF loss (- 0.58 ml/min/months, 95% CI 0.16-1.01, P = 0.007). Overall, time to full-dose dialysis was 12.1 months (95% CI 9.8-14.3) with no difference between IHD and IPD (P = 0.217).

Conclusions: Incremental dialysis allows longer preservation of RKF thus deferring full-dose dialysis, by about 1 year in HD and PD, with no increase in mortality risk. Large and adequate studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: ESRD; Incremental hemodialysis; Incremental peritoneal dialysis; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Peritoneal Dialysis / methods
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*