Residual kidney function (RKF) contributes to improved survival in hemodialysis (HD) patients. However, it is not clear whether RKF allows a comparable survival rate in patients undergoing twice-weekly HD compared with thrice-weekly HD.
We enrolled 685 patients from a prospective multicenter observational cohort. RKF and HD adequacy was monitored regularly over 3-year follow-up. Patients with RKF were divided into groups undergoing twice-weekly HD (n = 113) or thrice-weekly HD (n = 137). Patients without RKF undergoing thrice-weekly HD (n = 435) were included as controls. Fluid balance and dialysis-associated characteristics were followed and clinical outcomes evaluated using all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events (CVE).
In patients with RKF, baseline and follow-up RKF were significantly higher in patients undergoing twice-weekly HD than in those undergoing thrice-weekly HD. Total Kt/V urea (dialysis plus residual renal) in patients with RKF undergoing twice-weekly HD was greater than or equal to those in patients with or without RKF undergoing thrice-weekly HD. Compared with patients with RKF undergoing thrice-weekly HD, patients with RKF undergoing twice-weekly HD had no fluid excess, but their normalized protein catabolic rate became lower since 24-month follow up. In multivariable analyses, patients with RKF undergoing twice-weekly HD had a noninferior risk of mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.83; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.34–2.01, P = 0.68) and of CVE (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.28–1.29, P = 0.19) compared with patients without RKF undergoing thrice-weekly HD. However, this group showed an independent association with a greater risk of mortality compared with patients with RKF undergoing thrice-weekly HD (HR, 4.20; 95% CI, 1.02–17.32, P = 0.04).
In conclusion, patients with RKF undergoing twice-weekly HD had an increased risk of mortality compared with those undergoing thrice-weekly HD. Decisions about twice-weekly HD should consider not only RKF, but also other risk factors such as normalized protein catabolic rate.