Individual studies indicate that kidney transplantation is associated with lower mortality and improved quality of life compared with chronic dialysis treatment. We did a systematic review to summarize the benefits of transplantation, aiming to identify characteristics associated with especially large or small relative benefit. Results were not pooled because of expected diversity inherent to observational studies. Risk of bias was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist and items related to time-to-event analysis techniques. MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched up to February 2010. Cohort studies comparing adult chronic dialysis patients with kidney transplantation recipients for clinical outcomes were selected. We identified 110 eligible studies with a total of 1 922 300 participants. Most studies found significantly lower mortality associated with transplantation, and the relative magnitude of the benefit seemed to increase over time (p < 0.001). Most studies also found that the risk of cardiovascular events was significantly reduced among transplant recipients. Quality of life was significantly and substantially better among transplant recipients. Despite increases in the age and comorbidity of contemporary transplant recipients, the relative benefits of transplantation seem to be increasing over time. These findings validate current attempts to increase the number of people worldwide that benefit from kidney transplantation.
©2011 The Authors Journal compilation©2011 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.