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Predictors of progression to chronic dialysis in survivors of severe acute kidney injury: a competing risk study

Ziv Harel12*, Chaim M Bell3, Stephanie N Dixon45, Eric McArthur45, Matthew T James6, Amit X Garg45, Shai Harel1, Samuel Silver1 and Ron Wald12

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Nephrology, St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, 61 Queen Street, 7th floor, M5C 2 T2, ON Toronto, Canada

2 Department of Medicine and Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St Michael’s da

3 Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

4 Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Kidney, Dialysis, Transplantation, London, Ontario, Canada

5 Division of Nephrology, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada

6 Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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BMC Nephrology 2014, 15:114  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-15-114

Published: 10 July 2014



Survivors of acute kidney injury are at an increased risk of developing irreversible deterioration in kidney function and in some cases, the need for chronic dialysis. We aimed to determine predictors of chronic dialysis and death among survivors of dialysis-requiring acute kidney injury.


We used linked administrative databases in Ontario, Canada, to identify patients who were discharged from hospital after an episode of acute kidney injury requiring dialysis and remained free of further dialysis for at least 90 days after discharge between 1996 and 2009. Follow-up extended until March 31, 2011. The primary outcome was progression to chronic dialysis. Predictors for this outcome were evaluated using cause-specific Cox proportional hazards models, and a competing risk approach was used to calculate absolute risk.


We identified 4 383 patients with acute kidney injury requiring temporary in-hospital dialysis who survived to discharge. After a mean follow-up of 2.4 years, 356 (8%) patients initiated chronic dialysis and 1475 (34%) died. The cumulative risk of chronic dialysis was 13.5% by the Kaplan-Meier method, and 10.3% using a competing risk approach. After accounting for the competing risk of death, previous nephrology consultation (subdistribution hazard ratio (sHR) 2.03; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.61-2.58), a history of chronic kidney disease (sHR3.86; 95% CI 2.99-4.98), a higher Charlson comorbidity index score (sHR 1.10; 95% CI 1.05-1.15/per unit) and pre-existing hypertension (sHR 1.82; 95% CI 1.28-2.58) were significantly associated with an increased risk of progression to chronic dialysis.


Among survivors of dialysis-requiring acute kidney injury who initially become dialysis independent, the subsequent need for chronic dialysis is predicted by pre-existing kidney disease, hypertension and global comorbidity. This information can identify patients at high risk of progressive kidney disease who may benefit from closer surveillance after cessation of the acute phase of illness.

Acute kidney injury; Predictors; Chronic dialysis; Competing risk