Kidney disease symptoms before and after kidney transplantation

Kathryn Taylor, Nadia M. Chu, Xiaomeng Chen, Zhan Shi, Eileen Rosello, Sneha Kunwar, Paul Butz, Silas P. Norman, Deidra C. Crews, Keiko I. Greenberg, Aarti Mathur, Dorry L. Segev, Tariq Shafi, Mara A. McAdams-Demarco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background and objectives Patients with kidney failure report a high symptom burden, which likely increases while on dialysis due to physical and mental stressors and decreases after kidney transplantation due to restoration of kidney function. Design, setting, participants, & measurements We leveraged a two-center prospective study of 1298 kidney transplant candidates and 521 recipients (May 2014 to March 2020). Symptom scores (0-100) at evaluation and admission for transplantation were calculated using the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short-Form Survey, where lower scores represent greater burden, and burden was categorized as very high: 0.0-71.0; high: 71.1-81.0; medium: 81.1-91.0; and low: 91.1-100.0. We estimated adjusted waitlist mortality risk (competing risks regression), change in symptoms between evaluation and transplantation (n5190), and post-transplantation symptom score trajectories (mixed effects models). Results At evaluation, candidates reported being moderately to extremely bothered by fatigue (32%), xeroderma (27%), muscle soreness (26%), and pruritus (25%); 16% reported high and 21% reported very high symptom burden. Candidates with very high symptom burden were at greater waitlist mortality risk (adjusted subdistribution hazard ratio, 1.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 2.62). By transplantation, 34% experienced an increased symptom burden, whereas 42% remained unchanged. The estimated overall symptom score was 82.3 points at transplantation and 90.6 points at 3 months (10% improvement); the score increased 2.75 points per month (95% confidence interval, 2.38 to 3.13) from 0 to 3 months, and plateaued (20.06 points per month; 95% confidence interval, 20.30 to 0.18) from 3 to 12 months post-transplantation. There were early (first 3 months) improvements in nine of 11 symptoms; pruritus (23% improvement) and fatigue (21% improvement) had the greatest improvements. Conclusions Among candidates, very high symptom burden was associated with waitlist mortality, but for those surviving and undergoing kidney transplantation, symptoms improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1093
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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