Background: Long-term prognosis of patients with type-1 diabetes mellitus and end-stage renal failure appears to be better after kidney transplantation compared with dialysis. Controversy exists about the additional benefit of a simultaneously transplanted pancreatic graft. We studied the effect on mortality of simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation compared with kidney transplantation alone from regional differences in transplantation protocols.
Methods: All 415 patients with type-1 diabetes (aged 18-52 years) who started renal-replacement therapy in the Netherlands between 1985 and 1996 were included in the analysis. Patients were allocated to a centre based on their place of residence at onset of renal failure. In the Leiden area, the primary intention to treat was with a simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation, whereas in the non-Leiden area, kidney transplantation alone was the predominant type of treatment. All patients were followed up to July, 1997. Analyses, mortality, and graft failure were by Cox proportional-hazard model adjusted for age and sex.
Findings: Simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation was done in 41 (73%) of 56 transplanted patients in the Leiden area compared with 59 (37%) of 158 transplanted patients in the non-Leiden area (p<0.001). The hazard ratio for mortality after the start of renal-replacement therapy was 0.53 (95% CI, 0.36-0.77, p<0.001) in the Leiden area compared with the non-Leiden area. When just the transplanted patients were analysed the mortality ratio was 0.4 (95% CI 0.20-0.77, p=0.008) and was independent of duration of dialysis and early transplant-related deaths. Equal survival was found for patients on dialysis only.
Interpretation: These data support the hypothesis that simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation prolongs survival in patients with diabetes and end-stage renal failure.