Kidney Failure and ESRD in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study: Comparing Ascertainment of Treated and Untreated Kidney Failure in a Cohort Study

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Background Linkage to the US Renal Data System (USRDS) registry commonly is used to identify end-stage renal disease (ESRD) cases, or kidney failure treated with dialysis or transplantation, but it underestimates the total burden of kidney failure. This study validates a kidney failure definition that includes both kidney failure treated and not treated by dialysis or transplantation. It compares kidney failure risk factors and outcomes using this broader definition with USRDS-identified ESRD risk factors and outcomes. Study Design Diagnostic test study with stratified random sampling of hospitalizations for chart review. Setting & Participants Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (n = 11,530; chart review, n = 546). Index Test USRDS-identified ESRD; treated or untreated kidney failure defined by USRDS-identified ESRD or International Classification of Diseases, Ninth or Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM) code for hospitalization or death. Reference Test For ESRD, determination of permanent dialysis therapy or transplantation; for kidney failure, determination of permanent dialysis therapy, transplantation, or estimated glomerular filtration rate < 15 mL/min/1.73 m2. Results During 13 years' median follow-up, 508 kidney failure cases were identified, including 173 (34.1%) from the USRDS registry. ESRD and kidney failure incidence were 1.23 and 3.66 cases per 1,000 person-years in the overall population and 1.35 and 6.59 cases per 1,000 person-years among participants older than 70 years, respectively. Other risk-factor associations were similar between ESRD and kidney failure, except diabetes and albuminuria, which were stronger for ESRD. Survivals at 1 and 5 years were 74.0% and 24.0% for ESRD and 59.8% and 31.6% for kidney failure, respectively. Sensitivity and specificity were 88.0% and 97.3% comparing the kidney failure ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM code algorithm to chart review; for USRDS-identified ESRD, sensitivity and specificity were 94.9% and 100.0%. Limitations Some medical charts were incomplete. Conclusions A kidney failure definition including treated and untreated disease identifies more cases than linkage to the USRDS registry alone, particularly among older adults. Future studies might consider reporting both USRDS-identified ESRD and a more inclusive kidney failure definition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study
  • Index Words End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • US Renal Data System (USRDS)
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • chronic kidney failure
  • hospitalization
  • renal replacement therapy (RRT)
  • sensitivity and specificity
  • untreated renal failure
  • validation studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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