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Abrupt Decline in Kidney Function Precipitating Initiation of Chronic Renal Replacement Therapy.



Abrupt declines in kidney function often occur in patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and may exacerbate the need to initiate dialysis treatment. It is unclear how frequently such events occur in patients transitioning to chronic dialysis therapy, and what outcomes they are associated with.


We examined a national cohort of 23,349 US veterans with incident end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and with available pre-ESRD estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to identify abrupt declines in kidney function, defined as an unexpected >50% decrease in eGFR at the time of chronic dialysis transition. Associations with all-cause mortality and with renal recovery were examined in Cox proportional hazard and competing risk regression models.


A total of 4804 (21%) patients experienced an abrupt decline in kidney function at dialysis transition. Renal recovery occurred in 586 (12.2%) and 297 (1.6%) patients with and without an abrupt decline, respectively (adjusted subhazard ratio: 4.42; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.72-5.27; P < 0.001). In the first 6 months after dialysis transition 1178 patients (24.5%) with abrupt decline died (annualized mortality rate 574/1000 patient-years), compared with 2354 deaths (12.7%) in patients without abrupt decline (274 deaths/1000 patient-years). An abrupt decline was associated with 45% higher mortality after multivariable adjustments (hazard ratio: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.33-1.57).


Abrupt declines in kidney function are common in patients transitioning to chronic dialysis, and are associated with higher mortality. Patients with abrupt declines also experience a higher rate of renal recovery; hence, careful attention to residual kidney function is warranted in these patients.

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