Leading-edge research into renal pain gets big league attention

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Leading-edge research into renal pain gets big league attention

Dr. Bhanu Prasad and his research team are attracting international attention for their research into pain control for a rare kidney condition.

Dr. Bhanu Prasad presents at the ERA-EDTA Congress on June 3. Photo courtesy of Dr. David McCutcheon.

Prasad, a Regina kidney specialist, spoke about his team’s research into loin pain hematuria syndrome at the 54th ERA-EDTA Congress in Madrid, Spain on June 6 2017. ERA-EDTA is the association of European kidney specialists.

“It’s exciting – absolutely. Presenting to a bigger audience allows us to interact with people who have similar interests in the same area,” he said. “It lays the foundation for future collaborative partnerships.”

Loin pain hematuria syndrome (LPHS) is characterized by persistent and recurrent loin pain and blood in the urine. In Saskatchewan, there are about 10-12 cases. LPHS predominantly affects young women.

“The pain arises from the kidney but we cannot demonstrate what’s driving the pain,” said Prasad. “The pain is debilitating enough to make people leave work. It leads to increased absenteeism, increased hospitalizations and dependence on pain relief medications leading to an extremely poor quality of life.”

Treatment options are limited and not always effective. They include narcotics or opioids, surgically moving the kidney to a different place in the body (auto-transplantation) and even kidney removal (nephrectomy).

“There are people who have both kidneys removed in the hope this will alleviate their pain.”

Prasad is lead investigator of the Prairie Loin Pain Hematuria Study. The study, which ran from June 2015 to November 2016, looked at using renal artery denervation to control or eliminate loin pain in 12 patients.

Renal artery denervation is a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure where radio-frequency energy is used to destroy nerves travelling in the outside part of the renal artery. The aim is to disrupt the nerve impulses between the kidney and the brain that signal pain. In the past, this procedure has been conducted on patients who cannot control their blood pressure with medications.

Other members of Prasad’s team are Shelley Giebel, a nurse practitioner with RQHR’s Primary Health Care Network, Dr. Kunal Goyal, a Regina interventional radiologist, Dr. Francisco Garcia, a Swift Current urologist, and Dr. Michelle McCarron, a Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region research scientist.

Their research showed that, in 11 of 12 patients, renal artery denervation had a greater than 30 per cent reduction in self-reported pain. There was also consistent improvement in functionality, mood and quality of life for all 12 participants.

“Our study lays the foundation for a multi-centre study with Regina at the helm,” said Prasad, who has already spoken with an American and a Canadian institution about a potential collaboration.

Prasad said he is in the process of creating a funding proposal with the assistance of Dr. Michelle McCarron for submission to provincial and national agencies. He estimates the multi-centre study will cost in the neighbourhood of $1 million.



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