Early start of dialysis: a critical review

Steven Rosansky, Richard J Glassock, William F Clark
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: CJASN 2011, 6 (5): 1222-8
In the US, patients who initiate dialysis "early" (at Modification of Diet in Renal Disease estimated GFR [eGFR]> 10 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)) account for over 50 percent of new dialysis starts. This trend to an early start is based on conventional wisdoms regarding benefits of dialytic clearance, that albumin levels are nutritional markers, and early dialytic therapy is justified to improve nutrition especially in diabetics and that waiting until low levels of eGFR (i.e., <6 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)) may be dangerous. In order to justify early dialysis treatment, the therapy must provide a morbidity, mortality, or quality of life benefit. The current review examines whether early dialysis initiation provides any of these benefits and whether the conventional wisdoms that have promoted this early dialysis trend are valid. Utilizing this information and the results of recent large observational studies and the randomized controlled Initiating Dialysis Early and Late (IDEAL) study, we suggest that dialysis initiation is justified at GFR levels of 5-9 ml/min/1.73 m(2), if accompanied by uremia symptoms or fluid management issues.

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