[The grey line of dialysis initiation: as early as possible that is, by the incremental modality]

Francesco Gaetano Casino
Giornale Italiano di Nefrologia: Organo Ufficiale Della Società Italiana di Nefrologia 2010, 27 (6): 574-83
In the past, the initiation of dialysis treatment was determined by the appearance of signs and symptoms of uremia along with biochemical parameters. More recently, based on the findings of observational studies, it was hypothesized that an earlier start would benefit patients. The endorsement of this concept by international guidelines has led to the current practice of starting dialysis at GFR levels of 10 to 15 mL/ min/1.73 m2. However, recent observational studies taking into proper account the lead time bias showed a worse rather than better prognosis in early starters, suggesting that the previous studies might have been flawed. The IDEAL (Initiating Dialysis Early And Late) study has shown that starting dialysis ''just in time'', i.e., at the occurrence of uremic symptoms, does not harm the patient in that it is associated with the same clinical outcomes as early dialysis initiation. We believe that these results are compatible with our hypothesis that starting peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis with an incremental modality could be appropriate for an asymptomatic patient with objective signs of mild uremia and a measured GFR around 10 mL/min/1.73 m2. In fact, when the GFR is relatively high, a reduced dialysis dose and/or frequency could suffice to control mild uremia, while possibly preserving the residual renal function owing to the reduced contact time between blood and bio-incompatible dialysis materials. The dialysis dose and/or frequency could be increased step by step, at the occurrence of symptoms, marked biochemical derangements or problems with volume control, without computing weekly Kt/Vurea.

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