Mortality and Hospitalizations in Intensive Dialysis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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Background: Survival and hospitalization are critically important outcomes considered when choosing between intensive hemodialysis (HD), conventional HD, and peritoneal dialysis (PD). However, the comparative effectiveness of these modalities is unclear. Objective: We had the following aims: (1) to compare the association of mortality and hospitalization in patients undergoing intensive HD, compared with conventional HD or PD and (2) to appraise the methodological quality of the supporting evidence. Data Sources: MEDLINE, Embase, ISI Web of Science, CENTRAL, and nephrology conference abstracts. Study Eligibility Participants and Interventions: We included cohort studies with comparator arm, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with >50% of adult patients (≥18 years) comparing any form of intensive HD (>4 sessions/wk or >5.5 h/session) with any form of chronic dialysis (PD, HD ≤4 sessions/wk or ≤5.5 h/session), that reported at least 1 predefined outcome (mortality or hospitalization). Methods: We used the GRADE approach to systematic reviews and quality appraisal. Two reviewers screened citations and full-text articles, and extracted study-level data independently, with discrepancies resolved by consensus. We pooled effect estimates of randomized and observational studies separately using generic inverse variance with random effects models, and used fixed-effects models when only 2 studies were available for pooling. Predefined subgroups for the intensive HD cohorts were classified by nocturnal versus short daily HD and home versus in-center HD. Results: Twenty-three studies with a total of 70 506 patients were included. Of the observational studies, compared with PD, intensive HD had a significantly lower mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.53-0.84; I2 = 91%). Compared with conventional HD, home nocturnal (HR: 0.46; 95% CI: 0.38-0.55; I2 = 0%), in-center nocturnal (HR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.60-0.90; I2 = 57%) and home short daily (HR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31-0.95; I2 = 82%) intensive regimens had lower mortality. Of the 2 RCTs assessing mortality, in-center short daily HD had lower mortality (HR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31-0.93), while home nocturnal HD had higher mortality (HR: 3.88; 95% CI: 1.27-11.79) in long-term observational follow-up. Hospitalization days per patient-year (mean difference: -1.98; 95% CI: -2.37 to -1.59; I2 = 6%) were lower in nocturnal compared with conventional HD. Quality of evidence was similarly low or very low in RCTs (due to imprecision) and observational studies (due to residual confounding and selection bias). Limitations: The overall quality of evidence was low or very low for critical outcomes. Outcomes such as quality of life, transplantation, and vascular access outcomes were not included in our review. Conclusions: Intensive HD regimens may be associated with reduced mortality and hospitalization compared with conventional HD or PD. As the quality of supporting evidence is low, patients who place a high value on survival must be adequately advised and counseled of risks and benefits when choosing intensive dialysis. Practice guidelines that promote shared decision-making are likely to be helpful.