Post date: October 23, 2009
A: The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is one measure of kidney function that is used to approximate the percentage of kidney function that remains. Normal kidney function is a GFR from 90 to 120 cc/minute per 1.73 meters squared. Patients who may be benefited from dialysis have a GFR of less than 15 cc/minute per 1.73 meters squared. The decision to start dialysis is a decision between the patient and their physician that dialysis will benefit their particular symptoms and situation. If they start dialysis, that patient is determined to have end stage renal disease (ESRD). If they do not start dialysis, we describe them as persistent Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD). The decision to start dialysis is based on symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, itching, chemical values in the blood, and general feelings of well-being by the patient as judged by the physician. There are not absolute criteria on which to base the decision to start dialysis.