Background: Recent observations in our country have shown that late diagnosis of chronic renal failure (CRF) is an important cause of late referral and late commencement of maintenance dialysis. We prospectively investigated the influence of late diagnosis of CRF on patient mortality during dialysis therapy.
Methods: Among 184 consecutive patients with nondiabetic end-stage renal disease starting chronic dialysis at the Federal University Hospital in the city of São Paulo, 106 had a late diagnosis of CRF (less than 1 month before starting dialysis) and 78 had an early diagnosis. During the first 6 months of dialysis treatment, patient survival was compared in the two groups, using the Kaplan-Meier method and the Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: Six-month patient survival rate was lower in the late than in the early diagnosis group (69% versus 87%, P < 0.01). In the late diagnosis group, the hazard ratio of mortality was 2.77 (95% CI, 1.36-5.66) times that of the early diagnosis group. In a multivariate analysis, after adjusting for age, comorbid illness, and serum biochemical measurements, time of diagnosis did not remain significantly associated with mortality risk. In this analysis, age, pulmonary infection, and low serum albumin were significant predictors of mortality.
Conclusions: Patients with a late diagnosis have a higher mortality risk during the first 6 months of maintenance dialysis. This increased risk is related to comorbid conditions, some of which could be prevented by predialysis care. Interventions to promote early diagnosis of CRF and adequate predialysis follow-up need to be evaluated if the survival of patients with chronic renal failure is to improve.