End-stage kidney disease on dialysis: an observational study of modality change from maximum conservative management

BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2021 Mar 15;bmjspcare-2020-002839. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2020-002839. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: A rising burden from end-stage kidney disease with poor outcomes in the frail, elderly population has seen the emergence of a non-dialytic option, also known as maximum conservative management (MCM). Despite an established MCM programme in our institution, it was anecdotally observed that some MCM patients would end up being dialysed short and long term. We explored treatment modality changes from MCM to renal replacement therapy (RRT), the reasons surrounding the change, and aimed to quantify survival in this cohort of patients.

Methods: 44 patients were identified as being MCM, who changed modalities to RRT, from 2000 to 2015, using the Royal Free Hospital Renal Unit's database. Electronic health records were reviewed retrospectively. Associations with 12-month mortality were explored and Kaplan-Meier method used to predict survival.

Results: The most common modality change was to haemodialysis (81%), with one transplantation, and rest peritoneal dialysis. 28 patients commenced dialysis as unplanned starters, with the most common symptom being fluid overload. One-year survival was associated with increased age (75 vs 83, p=0.004, for alive vs dead) and had lower mean Charlson Comorbidity Index (6.2 vs 7.3, p=0.021). Median survival of 65 months following RRT initiation was predicted by the Kaplan-Meier method.

Conclusions: Patients changed modalities from MCM to RRT due to symptoms, the most common being fluid overload. Despite an unplanned change to RRT, survival appears to be significant at 65 months in this study, indicating clinicians are continuing to offer RRT to patients appropriately.

Keywords: chronic conditions; end of life care; renal failure; service evaluation.