Intermittent versus continuous renal replacement therapy for acute renal failure in adults

Kannaiyan S. Rabindranath, James Adams, Alison M MacLeod, Norman Muirhead

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

292 Citations (Scopus)



Renal replacement therapy (RRT) for acute renal failure (ARF) can be applied intermittently (IRRT) or continuously (CRRT). It has been suggested that CRRT has several advantages over IRRT including better haemodynamic stability, lower mortality and higher renal recovery rates.


To compare CRRT with IRRT to establish if any of these techniques is superior to each other in patients with ARE

Search strategy

We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). Authors of included studies were contacted, reference lists of identified studies and relevant narrative reviews were screened. Search date: October 2006.

Selection criteria

RCTs comparing CRRT with IRRT in adult patients with ARF and reporting prespecified outcomes of interest were included. Studies assessing CAPD were excluded.

Data collection and analysis

Two authors assessed trial quality and extracted data. Statistical analyses were performed using the random effects model and the results expressed as relative risk (RR) for dichotomous outcomes or mean difference (WMD) for continuous data with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Main results

We identified 15 studies (1550 patients). CRRT did not differ from IRRT with respect to in-hospital mortality (RR 1.01, 95% Cl 0.92 to 1.12), ICU mortality (RR 1.06, 95% Cl 0.90 to 1.26), number of surviving patients not requiring RRT (RR 0.99, 95% Cl 0.92 to 1.07), haemodynamic instability (RR 0.48, 95% Cl 0.10 to 2.28) or hypotension (RR 0.92, 95% Cl 0.72 to 1.16) and need for escalation of pressor therapy (RR 0.53, 95% Cl 0.26 to 1.08). Patients on CRRT were likely to have significantly higher mean arterial pressure (MAP) (WMD 5.35, 95% Cl 1.41 to 9.29) and higher risk of clotting dialysis filters (RR, 95% Cl 8.50 Cl 1.14 to 63.33).

Authors conclusions

In patients who are haemodynamically stable, the RRT modality does not appear to influence important patient outcomes, and therefore the preference for CRRT over IRRT in such patients does not appear justified in the light of available evidence. CRRT was shown to achieve better haemodynamic parameters such as MAP. Future research should focus on factors such as the dose of dialysis and evaluation of newer promising hybrid technologies such as SLED. Triallists should follow the recommendations regarding clinical endpoints assessment in RCTs in ARF made by the Working Group of the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative Working Group.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD003773
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2007


  • critically-ill patient
  • intensive-care-unit
  • continuous venovenous hemofiltration
  • randomized clinical-trial
  • quality-of-life
  • continuous hemodialysis
  • hemodynamic-response
  • requiring dialysis
  • ICU patients
  • mortality


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