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      The current and future landscape of dialysis


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          The development of dialysis by early pioneers such as Willem Kolff and Belding Scribner set in motion several dramatic changes in the epidemiology, economics and ethical frameworks for the treatment of kidney failure. However, despite a rapid expansion in the provision of dialysis — particularly haemodialysis and most notably in high-income countries (HICs) — the rate of true patient-centred innovation has slowed. Current trends are particularly concerning from a global perspective: current costs are not sustainable, even for HICs, and globally, most people who develop kidney failure forego treatment, resulting in millions of deaths every year. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches and dialysis modalities that are cost-effective, accessible and offer improved patient outcomes. Nephrology researchers are increasingly engaging with patients to determine their priorities for meaningful outcomes that should be used to measure progress. The overarching message from this engagement is that while patients value longevity, reducing symptom burden and achieving maximal functional and social rehabilitation are prioritized more highly. In response, patients, payors, regulators and health-care systems are increasingly demanding improved value, which can only come about through true patient-centred innovation that supports high-quality, high-value care. Substantial efforts are now underway to support requisite transformative changes. These efforts need to be catalysed, promoted and fostered through international collaboration and harmonization.


          Dialysis is a life-saving therapy; however, costs of dialysis are high, access is inequitable and outcomes are inadequate. This Review describes the current landscape of dialysis therapy from an epidemiological, economic, ethical and patient-centred framework, and describes initiatives that are aimed at stimulating innovations in the field to one that supports high-quality, high-value care.

          Key points

          • The global dialysis population is growing rapidly, especially in low-income and middle-income countries; however, worldwide, a substantial number of people lack access to kidney replacement therapy, and millions of people die of kidney failure each year, often without supportive care.

          • The costs of dialysis care are high and will likely continue to rise as a result of increased life expectancy and improved therapies for causes of kidney failure such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

          • Patients on dialysis continue to bear a high burden of disease, shortened life expectancy and report a high symptom burden and a low health-related quality of life.

          • Patient-focused research has identified fatigue, insomnia, cramps, depression, anxiety and frustration as key symptoms contributing to unsatisfactory outcomes for patients on dialysis.

          • Initiatives to transform dialysis outcomes for patients require both top-down efforts (that is, efforts that promote incentives based on systems level policy, regulations, macroeconomic and organizational changes) and bottom-up efforts (that is, patient-led and patient-centred advocacy efforts as well as efforts led by individual teams of innovators).

          • Patients, payors, regulators and health-care systems increasingly demand improved value in dialysis care, which can only come about through true patient-centred innovation that supports high-quality, high-value care.

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          Most cited references123

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          Rosuvastatin and cardiovascular events in patients undergoing hemodialysis.

          Statins reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in patients at high cardiovascular risk. However, a benefit of statins in such patients who are undergoing hemodialysis has not been proved. We conducted an international, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, prospective trial involving 2776 patients, 50 to 80 years of age, who were undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. We randomly assigned patients to receive rosuvastatin, 10 mg daily, or placebo. The combined primary end point was death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke. Secondary end points included death from all causes and individual cardiac and vascular events. After 3 months, the mean reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels was 43% in patients receiving rosuvastatin, from a mean baseline level of 100 mg per deciliter (2.6 mmol per liter). During a median follow-up period of 3.8 years, 396 patients in the rosuvastatin group and 408 patients in the placebo group reached the primary end point (9.2 and 9.5 events per 100 patient-years, respectively; hazard ratio for the combined end point in the rosuvastatin group vs. the placebo group, 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 1.11; P=0.59). Rosuvastatin had no effect on individual components of the primary end point. There was also no significant effect on all-cause mortality (13.5 vs. 14.0 events per 100 patient-years; hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.07; P=0.51). In patients undergoing hemodialysis, the initiation of treatment with rosuvastatin lowered the LDL cholesterol level but had no significant effect on the composite primary end point of death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00240331.) 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Functional status of elderly adults before and after initiation of dialysis.

            It is unclear whether functional status before dialysis is maintained after the initiation of this therapy in elderly patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Using a national registry of patients undergoing dialysis, which was linked to a national registry of nursing home residents, we identified all 3702 nursing home residents in the United States who were starting treatment with dialysis between June 1998 and October 2000 and for whom at least one measurement of functional status was available before the initiation of dialysis. Functional status was measured by assessing the degree of dependence in seven activities of daily living (on the Minimum Data Set-Activities of Daily Living [MDS-ADL] scale of 0 to 28 points, with higher scores indicating greater functional difficulty). The median MDS-ADL score increased from 12 during the 3 months before the initiation of dialysis to 16 during the 3 months after the initiation of dialysis. Three months after the initiation of dialysis, functional status had been maintained in 39% of nursing home residents, but by 12 months after the initiation of dialysis, 58% had died and predialysis functional status had been maintained in only 13%. In a random-effects model, the initiation of dialysis was associated with a sharp decline in functional status, indicated by an increase of 2.8 points in the MDS-ADL score (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5 to 3.0); this decline was independent of age, sex, race, and functional-status trajectory before the initiation of dialysis. The decline in functional status associated with the initiation of dialysis remained substantial (1.7 points; 95% CI, 1.4 to 2.1), even after adjustment for the presence or absence of an accelerated functional decline during the 3-month period before the initiation of dialysis. Among nursing home residents with ESRD, the initiation of dialysis is associated with a substantial and sustained decline in functional status. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              The Current State of Peritoneal Dialysis.

              Technical innovations in peritoneal dialysis (PD), now used widely for the long-term treatment of ESRD, have significantly reduced therapy-related complications, allowing patients to be maintained on PD for longer periods. Indeed, the survival rate for patients treated with PD is now equivalent to that with in-center hemodialysis. In parallel, changes in public policy have spurred an unprecedented expansion in the use of PD in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, our improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in solute and water transport across the peritoneum and of the pathobiology of structural and functional changes in the peritoneum with long-term PD has provided new targets for improving efficiency and for intervention. As with hemodialysis, almost half of all deaths on PD occur because of cardiovascular events, and there is great interest in identifying modality-specific factors contributing to these events. Notably, tremendous progress has been made in developing interventions that substantially reduce the risk of PD-related peritonitis. Yet the gains have been unequal among individual centers, primarily because of unequal clinical application of knowledge gained from research. The work to date has further highlighted the areas in need of innovation as we continue to strive to improve the health and outcomes of patients treated with PD.

                Author and article information

                Nat Rev Nephrol
                Nat Rev Nephrol
                Nature Reviews. Nephrology
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                30 July 2020
                : 1-13
                [1 ]Kidney Research Institute, Seattle, WA USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000122986657, GRID grid.34477.33, Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, , University of Washington, ; Seattle, WA USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0626 3362, GRID grid.411326.3, Nephrology Section, Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, , University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium and European Kidney Health Alliance (EKHA), ; Brussels, Belgium
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7697, GRID grid.22072.35, Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, , University of Calgary, ; Calgary, Alberta Canada
                Author information
                © Springer Nature Limited 2020

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

                : 19 June 2020
                Review Article

                haemodialysis,health services,health care economics,medical ethics


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