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      A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Early versus Late Initiation of Dialysis

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          Abstract

          In clinical practice, there is considerable variation in the timing of the initiation of maintenance dialysis for patients with stage V chronic kidney disease, with a worldwide trend toward early initiation. In this study, conducted at 32 centers in Australia and New Zealand, we examined whether the timing of the initiation of maintenance dialysis influenced survival among patients with chronic kidney disease. We randomly assigned patients 18 years of age or older with progressive chronic kidney disease and an estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) between 10.0 and 15.0 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 of body-surface area (calculated with the use of the Cockcroft-Gault equation) to planned initiation of dialysis when the estimated GFR was 10.0 to 14.0 ml per minute (early start) or when the estimated GFR was 5.0 to 7.0 ml per minute (late start). The primary outcome was death from any cause. Between July 2000 and November 2008, a total of 828 adults (mean age, 60.4 years; 542 men and 286 women; 355 with diabetes) underwent randomization, with a median time to the initiation of dialysis of 1.80 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.60 to 2.23) in the early-start group and 7.40 months (95% CI, 6.23 to 8.27) in the late-start group. A total of 75.9% of the patients in the late-start group initiated dialysis when the estimated GFR was above the target of 7.0 ml per minute, owing to the development of symptoms. During a median follow-up period of 3.59 years, 152 of 404 patients in the early-start group (37.6%) and 155 of 424 in the late-start group (36.6%) died (hazard ratio with early initiation, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.83 to 1.30; P=0.75). There was no significant difference between the groups in the frequency of adverse events (cardiovascular events, infections, or complications of dialysis). In this study, planned early initiation of dialysis in patients with stage V chronic kidney disease was not associated with an improvement in survival or clinical outcomes. (Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and others; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, 12609000266268.)

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          Most cited references 20

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          ESRD patients in 2004: global overview of patient numbers, treatment modalities and associated trends.

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            Clinical practice guidelines for hemodialysis adequacy, update 2006.

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              Early initiation of dialysis fails to prolong survival in patients with end-stage renal failure.

              There is a trend to start dialysis earlier in patients with chronic renal failure. Studies that suggest improved survival from earlier initiation of dialysis are flawed in that they have measured survival from start of dialysis rather than from a time point before dialysis, when patients have the same renal function. This flaw is termed lead-time bias. Using the electronic patient record at the renal unit of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, all patients were identified who had received dialysis for chronic renal failure and who had sufficient data to calculate the time point at which they reached an estimated creatinine clearance (eC(Cr)) of 20 ml/min (n = 275). This date was used to time survival. The patients were divided into early and late start groups by the median eC(Cr) for all patients at initiation of dialysis, which was 8.3 ml/min. There was no significant benefit in patient survival from earlier initiation of dialysis. A Cox proportional hazards model demonstrated a significant inverse relationship between eC(Cr) at start of dialysis and survival (hazard ratio, 1.1; P = 0.02), i.e., patients who started dialysis with a lower eC(Cr) tended to survive longer. This relationship retained significance when gender, age, weight, presence of diabetes, mode of first dialysis, initial dialysis access, hemoglobin, serum albumin, blood leukocyte count, Wright/Khan index, and eC(Cr) at the start of dialysis were taken into account. This study fails to support a policy of earlier initiation of dialysis for patients with end-stage renal failure.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                August 12 2010
                August 12 2010
                : 363
                : 7
                : 609-619
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMoa1000552
                20581422
                © 2010
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