Kidney donors have lower fracture risk

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A new study published in JAMA Network Open has brought to light an interesting finding about living kidney donors.

Over an extensive follow-up period of 25 years, it turns out that people who have donated a kidney generally experience fewer fractures compared to those who haven’t donated but would have been eligible to do so.

Dr. Hilal Maradit Kremers and her team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, conducted this study.

They compared the risk of fractures, both in general and at specific sites in the body, between living kidney donors and a carefully selected group of non-donors.

These non-donors were people from the general population who could have donated a kidney but didn’t. The study involved 2,132 living kidney donors and 2,014 non-donor controls.

One of the key findings of this research is that the overall fracture rate among living kidney donors was significantly lower than that of the non-donor controls.

The standardized incidence ratio, a statistical measure used in the study, was 0.89 for overall fractures among kidney donors. This indicates a lower incidence compared to the control group.

However, the study did uncover that kidney donors had a higher rate of vertebral fractures – fractures in the spine – compared to the control group.

The standardized incidence ratio for these vertebral fractures was 1.42, indicating a higher incidence among the kidney donors.

The researchers suggest a possible explanation for these findings.

They speculate that the reduction in kidney mass from donating a kidney, along with prolonged hyperparathyroidism – a condition where the parathyroid glands in the neck produce too much parathyroid hormone – might make kidney donors more susceptible to loss of trabecular bone.

Trabecular bone is the spongy type of bone found at the end of long bones and inside the spine. This loss could then lead to a higher rate of vertebral fractures.

This study sheds new light on the long-term health outcomes for living kidney donors. While it highlights an overall lower fracture risk, it also draws attention to the specific increased risk of spinal fractures in this group.

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The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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