Travel may be hazardous to dialysis patients

October 30, 2009

If you're sick, traveling to a foreign land may boost your spirits, but jeopardize your health, according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, CA. The findings indicate that dialysis patients who travel on vacation risk infections, anemia, and other complications that can compromise their dialysis treatments.

In a study conceived and led by nurses, Claire Edwards, RGN; Kathleen Lynch, RGN; Neill Duncan, MRCP (West London Renal and Transplant Centre, Imperial College Kidney and Transplant Institute, United Kingdom); and their colleagues collected health information on patients who traveled on vacation at some point between April 2008 to March 2009. Their analysis included 69 patients of diverse ethnic background who traveled to Europe, the Middle East, India, the United States, Africa, the Pacific Rim, and South Asia.

One patient died during travel and two damaged or lost their fistulas or grafts (surgically created sites that provide dialysis tubes access to the blood). Seven patients required blood transfusions soon after their return, and several acquired blood stream infections.

The investigators concluded that travel among dialysis patients is associated with significantly increased infection rates, loss of vascular access, and anemia. "Many patients wish to travel freely around the world. This study empowers patients with information in order for them to make choices about their lifestyle," said Edwards.

The study is limited by the fact that the precise details of treatment received by patients, including treatment duration, blood loss, infection, antibiotic starts, etc while patients were on vacation was not always clear. There is no data for non-dialysis travelers, but the risks are expected to be significantly lower.
The authors report no financial disclosures. Study co-authors include Kathleen Lynch, RGN, Seema Singh, MSc, Damien Ashby, MRCP, David Taube, FRCP, Thomas Cairns, FRCP, Adam McLean, FRCP, DPhil, and Megan Griffith, FRCP, PhD (West London Renal and Transplant Centre, Imperial College Kidney and Transplant Institute, United Kingdom).

EDITOR: The study abstract, "Holiday travel in Haemodialysis Patients is Associated with increased Infection, Loss of Vascular Access And Anaemia," (F-PO1483) will be presented as part of a Poster Session during the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific on Oct. 30 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the Scientific Exposition Hall of the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA.

ASN Renal Week 2009, the largest nephrology meeting of its kind, will provide a forum for 13,000 professionals to discuss the latest findings in renal research and engage in educational sessions related to advances in the care of patients with kidney and related disorders. Renal Week 2009 will take place October 27 - November 1 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

Founded in 1966, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is the world's largest professional society devoted to the study of kidney disease. Comprised of 11,000 physicians and scientists, ASN continues to promote expert patient care, to advance medical research, and to educate the renal community. ASN also informs policymakers about issues of importance to kidney doctors and their patients. ASN funds research, and through its world-renowned meetings and first-class publications, disseminates information and educational tools that empower physicians.

American Society of Nephrology

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