Rising Rates of Kidney Treatment

Dialysis and kidney transplants for end stage renal disease on the rise in Australia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) In people with end-stage renal disease, the kidneys have completely or almost completely stopped working. Keeping these patients alive requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Over the past couple decades, the number of Australian kidney disease patients treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation has nearly tripled.

This rise may have been driven largely by diabetes-related kidney failure - a condition that affects almost 180,000 Americans.

"Control your diabetes to help prevent kidney disease."

"Diabetes-related kidney damage was the leading cause of treated end-stage kidney disease in 2009, accounting for 33 percent of new cases compared with 13 percent in 1991," said Dr. Lynelle Moon of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the organization that released the report.

A second reason for the increase is that more older people are being treated for kidney disease. In 1991, the average age of people beginning kidney replacement treatment was 44 years. In 2009, the average age increased to 61 years.

Another possible reason for the increase in treatment is that people receiving receiving kidney replacement therapy now have better chances of survival, said Dr. Moon.

The number of kidney transplants performed has risen as rates of end-stage renal disease also have increased.

In 1991, 470 kidney transplants were performed in Australia. In 2009, 772 transplants were performed. This increase in transplants was caused mainly by increased donation rates from living donors.

Unfortunately, the number of kidney patients waiting for transplants still outweighs the number of available organs. In 1991, 53 percent of treated kidney patients had a functioning transplant. By 2009, that fell to 43 percent.

People with end-stage renal disease who live in rural areas were less likely to have a functioning kidney transplant than those who live in urban areas.

From 1991 to 2009, the number of people on dialysis rose from 3,138 to 10,432 - more than a three-fold increase.

The location where patients receive dialysis has also changed. Compared to 1991, fewer patients were receiving dialysis at home in 2009.

As the number of dialysis patients has risen, so too has the number of dialysis-related hospitalizations. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of hospitalizations for dialysis increased by an average of 60,000 every year.

While these findings specifically apply to Australia, the general implications may hold weight here in the US.

As rates of both diabetes and kidney disease continue to grow, so too may rates of dialysis and kidney transplant.

Raising more awareness about these diseases and becoming an organ donor could save thousands of lives.

For this study, AIHW researchers looked at data from the Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant registry.

The report, entitled "Dialysis and kidney transplantation in Australia," can be found online at the AIHW website.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 19, 2012
Last Updated:
February 1, 2013