End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is a serious and costly health problem in Australia that usually requires kidney replacement therapy (KRT) for patients to survive. This therapy involves dialysis or kidney transplantation. Regional, sex and age differences influence the number of people starting and currently receiving KRT and the types of treatment used.

This report provides a detailed picture of KRT treatment in Australia using a variety of data sources. Differences are explored in KRT treatment rates and treatment patterns for ESKD between population groups and over time.

The number of people starting treatment for ESKD has increased

From 1991 to 2009, the rate of new cases of treated-ESKD increased by 80%, largely due to an increase in diabetes-related cases.

More people are receiving kidney replacement therapy

Between 1991 and 2009, the number of people receiving KRT for their ESKD almost tripled, from 6,643 to 18,267.

Kidney transplantation

From 1991 to 2009, the number of transplants performed each year increased from 470 to 772, largely due to a rise in donations from living donors.

At the end of 2009, about 40% of treated-ESKD patients living in non-remote areas had a functioning kidney transplant. This compares with 9% in Remote areas and 26% in Very Remote areas.

Dialysis treatment

From 1991 to 2009, the number of people receiving dialysis tripled, from 3,138 people to 10,431 in 2009.

The increase in the number of dialysis patients has resulted in an average increase of nearly 60,000 hospitalisations per year for dialysis from 2000–01 to 2009–10.

Treatment rates

For the period 2003–2007, for every new case of ESKD who received KRT, there was about one case that did not.

The vast majority (80%) of the new cases of ESKD who did not receive KRT were aged over 70.