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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether early initiation of renal replacement therapy is associated with lower mortality in patients with acute kidney injury compared to delayed initiation. METHODS: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing early versus delayed initiation of renal replacement therapy in patients with acute kidney injury without the life-threatening acute kidney injury-related symptoms of fluid overload or metabolic disorders. Two investigators extracted the data from the selected studies. The Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool was used to assess the quality of the studies, and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to test the overall quality of the evidence. RESULTS: Six randomized controlled trials (1,292 patients) were included. There was no statistically significant difference between early and delayed initiation of renal replacement therapy regarding the primary outcome (OR 0.82; 95%CI, 0.48 - 1.42; p = 0.488), but there was an increased risk of catheter-related bloodstream infection when renal replacement therapy was initiated early (OR 1.77; 95%CI, 1.01 - 3.11; p = 0.047). The quality of evidence generated by our meta-analysis for the primary outcome was considered low due to the risk of bias of the included studies and the heterogeneity among them. CONCLUSION: Early initiation of renal replacement therapy is not associated with improved survival. However, the quality of the current evidence is low, and the criteria used for -early- and -delayed- initiation of renal replacement therapy are too heterogeneous among studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Rev Bras Ter Intensiva

Publication Date





376 - 384


Acute Kidney Injury, Catheter-Related Infections, Humans, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Regression Analysis, Renal Replacement Therapy, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome