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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Competing-risk analysis of death and dialysis initiation among elderly (≥80 years) newly referred to nephrologists: a French prospective study

Bernadette Faller1, Jean-Baptiste Beuscart2, Luc Frimat34* and and on behalf of the ‘Association des néphrologues de l’Est’

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nephrology, Hôpital Louis Pasteur, Colmar, France

2 Department of biostatistics, EA 2694, UDSL, Lille, France; Geriatric Department, University Hospital, Lille, France

3 Department of Nephrology, University Hospital, Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France

4 Nancy University, P. Verlaine Metz University, and Paris Descartes University, EA 4360 Apemac, Nancy, France

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BMC Nephrology 2013, 14:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-103

Published: 7 May 2013



Reasons underlying dialysis decision-making in Octogenarians and Nonagenarians have not been further explored in prospective studies.


This regional, multicentre, non-interventional and prospective study was aimed to describe characteristics and quality of life (QoL) of elderly (≥80 years of age) with advanced chronic kidney disease (stage 3b-5 CKD) newly referred to nephrologists. Predictive factors of death and dialysis initiation were also assessed using competing-risk analyses.


All 155 included patients had an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) below 45 ml/min/1.73 m2. Most patients had a non anaemic haemoglobin level (Hb) with no iron deficiency, and normal calcium and phosphate levels. They were well-fed and had a normal cognitive function and a good QoL. The 3-year probabilities of death and dialysis initiation reached 27% and 11%, respectively. The leading causes of death were cardiovascular (32%), cachexia (18%), cancer (9%), infection (3%), trauma (3%), dementia (3%), and unknown (32%). The reasons for dialysis initiation were based on uncontrolled biological abnormalities, such as hyperkalemia or acidosis (71%), uncontrolled digestive disorders (35%), uncontrolled pulmonary or peripheral oedema (29%), and uncontrolled malnutrition (12%). No patients with acute congestive heart failure or cancer initiated dialysis. Predictors of death found in both multivariate regression models (Cox and Fine & Gray) included acute congestive heart failure, age, any walking impairment and Hb <10 g/dL. Regarding dialysis initiation, eGFR <23 mL/min/1.73 m2 was the only predictor found in the Cox multivariate regression model whereas eGFR <23 mL/min/1.73 m2 and diastolic blood pressure were both independently associated with dialysis initiation in the Fine & Gray analysis. Such findings suggested that death and dialysis were independent events.


Octogenarians and Nonagenarians newly referred to nephrologists by general practitioners were highly selected patients, without any symptoms of the common geriatric syndrome. In this population, nephrologists’ dialysis decision was based exclusively on uremic criteria.

Chronic kidney disease; Renal replacement therapy; Conservative management; Elderly; Competing-risk analysis