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Fracture risk in living kidney donors: a matched cohort study

Garg AX, Pouget J, Young A, Huang A, Boudville N, Hodsman A, Adachi JD, Leslie WD, Cadarette SM, Lok CE, Monroy-Cuadros M, Prasad GV, Thomas SM, Naylor K, Treleavan D; Donor Nephrectomy Outcomes Research (DONOR) Network. Am J Kidney Dis. 2012; 59(6):770-6. Epub 2012 Apr 1.


Background — Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of bone fragility fractures (osteoporotic fractures). Living kidney donors lose 50% of their renal mass and show changes in calcium homeostasis. We studied whether living kidney donation increases the risk of fragility fracture.

Design — Retrospective matched-cohort study.

Setting and Participants — We reviewed the medical charts of all 2,015 adults in Ontario, Canada, who donated a kidney between 1992 and 2009 (surgeries performed across 5 transplant programs). We linked this information to health care databases and randomly selected 20,150 matched nondonors from the healthiest portion of the general population. Median age was 43 (95% CI, 24-50) years at study enrollment. Donors and nondonors were then followed up for a median of 6.6 years and a maximum of 17.7 years.

Predictor — Living donor nephrectomy.

Outcomes — The primary outcome was lower- and upper-extremity fragility fractures. Individuals who reached 66 years or older in follow-up had bisphosphonate prescriptions recorded.

Results — The rate of fragility fracture was no higher in donors compared with nondonors (16.4 vs 18.7 events/10,000 person-years; rate ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.58-1.32). Results were similar in multiple additional analyses. There was little difference in the proportion of older adults in follow-up who received a bisphosphonate prescription (17.1% vs 15.2%; P = 0.4).

Limitations — These are interim results. Ongoing surveillance of this and other donor cohorts is warranted to be sure an association does not manifest with longer follow-up.

Conclusions — To date, there is no evidence of increased fragility fracture risk in living kidney donors. Our results meet an information need and are reassuring for the safety of the practice.

Keywords: Kidney and urinary tract disorders Osteoporosis Musculoskeletal and joint diseases

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