Long-term course of restless legs syndrome in dialysis patients after kidney transplantation



Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common cause of sleep disturbance and is frequently experienced by hemodialysis patients. Factors triggering the disease in uremia have not yet been identified. To our knowledge, the course of RLS symptoms after kidney transplantation has not been investigated systematically. We investigated the clinical long-term course of RLS in hemodialysis patients who underwent kidney transplantation. Patients were given a standardized questionnaire three times: at baseline, and twice after their kidney transplants. The severity of RLS was rated by the patients (0 =no symptoms, 10 = very severe symptoms). The description of the final outcome was based on the last follow-up visit. Eleven of 64 hemodialysis patients with RLS received a transplant (5 men, 6 women; severity of RLS at baseline, 7.8 ± 0.7 [mean ± SEM]). In all patients, RLS symptoms disappeared within 1 to 21 days after transplantation. At follow-up visits, 4 patients whose transplanted kidneys still functioned well were still free of RLS symptoms up to the longest follow-up period of 9 years. In 3 other patients, RLS symptoms gradually reappeared (severity, 1 ± 0). In 3 of 11 patients, the transplant failed and RLS symptoms reoccurred within 10 days to 2 months (severity, 7.3 ± 2.6). RLS symptoms reoccurred in 1 patient with failure of the transplant but disappeared again after a second, successful transplant. Kidney transplantation has a strong and positive influence on RLS symptoms in hemodialysis patients. Hemodialysis patients can expect a substantial improvement of RLS symptoms after a successful kidney transplant. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society.