Background: We previously defined an intermediate group of cadaver kidney transplant recipients who do not have immediate graft function (IGF), but do not have sufficient graft dysfunction to be classified as having delayed graft function (DGF). We showed that this group with slow graft function (SGF) had an increased risk of rejection and inferior long-term results vs. recipients with IGF. The aim of our current study was to determine risk factors for SGF, which have not been well defined (in contrast to risk factors for DGF).
Methods: Between January 1, 1984 and September 30, 1999, we performed 896 adult cadaver kidney transplants at the University of Minnesota. Recipients were analysed in three groups based on initial graft function: IGF [creatinine (Cr) < 3 mg/dL by post-operative day (POD) no. 5], SGF (Cr > 3 mg/dL on POD no. 5, but no need for dialysis), and DGF (need for dialysis in the first week post-transplant). A multivariate analysis looked specifically at risk factors for SGF, as compared with risk factors for DGF. Outcomes with regard to graft survival and acute rejection (AR) rates were determined for the three groups.
Results: Of the 896 recipients, 425 had IGF, 238 had SGF, and 233 had DGF. A multivariate analysis of risk factors for SGF showed donor age >50 yr (RR=3.3, p=0.0001) and kidney preservation time >24 h (RR=1.6, p=0.01) to be the most significant risk factors. A multivariate analysis of risk factors for DGF showed similar findings, although high panel-reactive antibodies (PRA) and donor Cr >1.7 mg/dL were also significant risk factors for DGF. Initial function of the graft significantly influenced the subsequent risk of AR: at 12 months post-transplant, the incidence of AR was 28% for those with IGF, 38% for those with SGF, and 44% for those with DGF (p=0.04 for SGF vs. DGF). Initial graft function also significantly influenced graft survival: the 5-yr death-censored graft survival rate was 89% for recipients with IGF, 72% for those with SGF, and 67% for those with DGF (p=0.01 for IGF vs. SGF; p=0.03 for SGF vs. DGF).
Conclusions: SGF represents part of the spectrum of graft injury and post-transplant graft dysfunction. Risk factors for SGF are similar to those seen for DGF. Even mild to moderate graft dysfunction post-transplant can have a negative impact on long-term graft survival.