Predicting risk of mortality in dialysis patients: a retrospective cohort study evaluating the prognostic value of a simple chest X-ray

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Bohn, Ethan
Tangri, Navdeep
Gali, Brent
Henderson, Blair
Sood, Manish M
Komenda, Paul
Rigatto, Claudio
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Abstract Background Clinical outcomes of dialysis patients are variable, and improved knowledge of prognosis would inform decisions regarding patient management. We assessed the value of simple, chest X-ray derived measures of cardiac size (cardiothoracic ratio (CTR)) and vascular calcification (Aortic Arch Calcification (AAC)), in predicting death and improving multivariable prognostic models in a prevalent cohort of hemodialysis patients. Methods Eight hundred and twenty-four dialysis patients with one or more postero-anterior (PA) chest X-ray were included in the study. Using a validated calcification score, the AAC was graded from 0 to 3. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the association between AAC score, CTR, and mortality. AAC was treated as a categorical variable with 4 levels (0,1,2, or 3). Age, race, diabetes, and heart failure were adjusted for in the multivariable analysis. The criterion for statistical significance was p<0.05. Results The median CTR of the sample was 0.53 [IQR=0.48,0.58] with calcification scores as follows: 0 (54%), 1 (24%), 2 (17%), and 3 (5%). Of 824 patients, 152 (18%) died during follow-up. Age, sex, race, duration of dialysis, diabetes, heart failure, ischemic heart disease and baseline serum creatinine and phosphate were included in a base Cox model. Both CTR (HR 1.78[1.40,2.27] per 0.1 unit change), area under the curve (AUC)=0.60[0.55,0.65], and AAC (AAC 3 vs 0 HR 4.35[2.38,7.66], AAC 2 vs 0 HR 2.22[1.41,3.49], AAC 1 vs 0 HR 2.43[1.64,3.61]), AUC=0.63[0.58,0.68]) were associated with death in univariate Cox analysis. CTR remained significant after adjustment for base model variables (adjusted HR 1.46[1.11,1.92]), but did not increase the AUC of the base model (0.71[0.66,0.76] vs. 0.71[0.66,0.76]) and did not improve net reclassification performance (NRI=0). AAC also remained significant on multivariable analysis, but did not improve net reclassification (NRI=0). All ranges were based on 95% confidence intervals. Conclusions Neither CTR nor AAC assessed on chest x-ray improved prediction of mortality in this prevalent cohort of dialysis patients. Our data do not support the clinical utility of X-ray measures of cardiac size and vascular calcification for the purpose of mortality prediction in prevalent hemodialysis patients. More advanced imaging techniques may be needed to improve prognostication in this population.
BMC Nephrology. 2013 Dec 01;14(1):263