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Restless legs syndrome in chronic renal failure patients on dialysis

Carin Behrens van Tonder
Gina Joubert
Anand Moodley


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) occurs in patients with chronic renal failure (CRF).

Objectives: To determine the prevalence and morbidity of RLS in CRF patients on dialysis.

Methods: This cross-sectional questionnaire-based study included 100 dialysis patients (50 on haemodialysis [HD]; 50 on peritoneal
dialysis [PD]). A focused lower limb examination was done. Patients were classified with RLS when reporting uncomfortable
feelings in their legs that improved with movement and worsened when resting and at night.

Results: Gender distribution was equal. The median age was 43 (19–67) years. Six patients (HD and PD n=3 each) had international
criteria-confirmed RLS. Twenty-four patients reported symptoms suggestive of RLS. Fourteen and 16 patients with RLS
symptoms were on HD and PD, respectively. Sleep disturbances occurred in 43.3% (n=13) of patients with RLS symptoms,
compared to 20.0% (n=20) of the large cohort. Sleep disturbances, peripheral sensory loss, chronic disease-related anaemia,
increased urea and decreased albumin levels were more common among patients with RLS symptoms.

Conclusion: RLS symptoms occurred in 30.0% of the entire cohort, although only 6.0% met the international criteria. The type
of dialysis had no impact on the incidence of symptoms. Identifying RLS in patients with CRF on dialysis will allow for early

Keywords: Restless legs syndrome; chronic renal failure; haemodialysis; peritoneal dialysis; symptoms.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905