A crossover study of gabapentin in treatment of restless legs syndrome among hemodialysis patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2001 Jul;38(1):104-8. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2001.25202.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common entity affecting hemodialysis patients. Although the cause of RLS remains unclear, a number of therapies have been used successfully to treat the disorder. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant shown to alleviate symptoms of RLS in two small studies of nonhemodialysis patients. Because it is excreted renally, gabapentin has a long half-life among hemodialysis patients and may be advantageous if proven effective. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-crossover study of gabapentin in the treatment of RLS among a population of hemodialysis patients. Sixteen patients identified with RLS were randomized to either gabapentin or placebo. After 6 weeks of treatment with 200 to 300 mg of gabapentin after each hemodialysis session, patients' RLS was reassessed. After a 1-week washout period, patients were switched from gabapentin to placebo or placebo to gabapentin. After another 6 weeks, patients' RLS was assessed again. Patient data were analyzed using both parametric and nonparametric means. Thirteen of the 16 original patients completed the study. Two patients dropped out because of lethargy (believed to be secondary to gabapentin), and 1 patient died secondary to myocardial infarction. Eleven patients responded to gabapentin, but not placebo (P < 0.01). One patient responded to both, and 1 patient responded to placebo, but not gabapentin. Gabapentin is an effective treatment for RLS in hemodialysis patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Amines*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gabapentin
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid*


  • Acetates
  • Amines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Gabapentin