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RLS in renal disease

Clinical bottom line

The prevalence of RLS in end-stage renal disease is of the order of 20-40%.


GL Gigli et al. Restless legs syndrome in end-stage renal disease. Sleep Medicine 2004 5: 309-315.


All patients undergoing haemodialysis in a region of Italy were given a questionnaire about restless legs symptoms, including current diagnostic criteria. Part was completed by the patient, while a second part completed by the physician included questions about medical history and treatment. Data from 601 consecutive questionnaires are given.


The average age of patients was 64 years, and 82% were over 45 years. Positive responses to all four diagnostic questions were given by 22% of patients.

Patients with RLS tended to have been on dialysis longer, and be less likely to be using phosphorus binders and antihypertensive medicines. They also had significantly more sleep problems and daytime somnolence than dialysis patients without RLS.

Review of RLS prevalence in end-stage renal disease

Also contained in the paper, but without a systematic search, was information on other studies examining RLS prevalence in end-stage renal disease (Figure 1). Most of these used current diagnostic criteria, and reported prevalence ranging from 7% to 83%. Most large studies reported prevalence in the range of 20-40% (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of RLS in end-stage renal disease


Though there was a wide variation, the most likely range of prevalence for RLS in patients with end-stage renal disease is 20-40%.