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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 May;7(5):712-9. doi: 10.2215/CJN.10821011. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Estimating baseline kidney function in hospitalized patients with impaired kidney function.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.



Inaccurate determination of baseline kidney function can misclassify acute kidney injury (AKI) and affect the study of AKI-related outcomes. No consensus exists on how to optimally determine baseline kidney function when multiple preadmission creatinine measurements are available.


The accuracy of commonly used methods for estimating baseline serum creatinine was compared with that of a reference standard adjudicated by a panel of board-certified nephrologists in 379 patients with AKI or CKD admitted to a tertiary referral center.


Agreement between estimating methods and the reference standard was highest when using creatinine values measured 7-365 days before admission. During this interval, the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for the mean outpatient serum creatinine level (0.91 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.88-0.92]) was higher than the most recent outpatient (ICC, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.80-0.88]; P<0.001) and the nadir outpatient (ICC, 0.83 [95% CI, 0.76-0.87; P<0.001) serum creatinine. Using the final creatinine value from a prior inpatient admission increased the ICC of the most recent outpatient creatinine method (0.88 [95% CI, 0.85-0.91]). Performance of all methods declined or was unchanged when the time interval was broadened to 2 years or included serum creatinine measured within a week of admission.


The mean outpatient serum creatinine measured within a year of hospitalization most closely approximates nephrologist-adjudicated serum creatinine values.

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