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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

End-stage renal disease preceded by rapid declines in kidney function: a case series

Peter Lee, Kirsten Johansen and Chi-yuan Hsu*

Author Affiliations

Division of Nephrology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

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BMC Nephrology 2011, 12:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-12-5

Published: 1 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Few studies have defined alternate pathways by which chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients transition into end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Methods

We studied all consecutive patients initiated on maintenance hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis over several years at two dialysis units in Northern California. Rapid decline in kidney function was considered to have occurred if a patient was documented to have estimated GFR > 30 ml/min/1.73 m2 within three months prior to the initiation of chronic dialysis.

Results

We found that 8 out of 105 incident chronic dialysis patients one dialysis unit (7.6%; 95% confidence interval 3.4-14.5%) and 9 out of 71 incident patients at another (12.7%, 95% CI 6.0%-22.7%) suffered rapid decline in kidney function that was the immediate precipitant for the need for permanent renal replacement therapy. All these patients started hemodialysis and all relied on catheters for vascular access. Documentation submitted to United States Renal Data System did not fully reflect the health status of these patients during their "pre-ESRD" period.

Conclusions

A sizeable minority of ESRD cases are preceded by rapid declines in kidney function. The importance of these periods of rapid decline may have been under-appreciated in prior studies of the natural history of CKD and ESRD.