Surgical complications of graft nephrectomy in the modern transplant era

J Urol. 2003 Sep;170(3):734-7. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000080566.42381.94.


Purpose: Transplant nephrectomy has been considered a hazardous procedure throughout transplantation history. Better surgical techniques and clinical treatment of patients have improved the results of this surgery in the last decades. We report the surgical complications of nephrectomy of early and late failed kidneys performed at a referral center.

Materials and methods: The charts of 70 consecutive patients who underwent graft nephrectomy between May 1994 and April 2002 were reviewed regarding surgical complications. Patients were divided into 2 groups according to the timing of graft removal. Early nephrectomy group 1 included 23 procedures performed in the first 60 days after transplantation and late nephrectomy group 2 included 47 performed after that interval. Groups were compared concerning outcome, blood loss and amount of blood transfused in the perioperative period, and the incidence of surgical complications according to the surgical technique, immunosuppressive regimen and timing of surgery.

Results: Mean blood loss was 434 ml (range 20 to 3,000) in group 1 and 546 (range 60 to 2,200) in group 2 (p = 0.02). Nine group 1 patients (39.1%) and 22 in group 2 (46.8%) received blood transfusion in the perioperative period (p = 0.62). The mean amount of blood transfused was 516.7 ml in group 1 and 436.3 ml in group 2 (p = 0.36). Four and 2 minor surgical complications occurred in groups 1 and 2 (17.4% and 4.3%, respectively, p = 0.09). Seven major complications were noted in group 2 (14.9%), while there were none in group 1 (p = 0.05). Three complications (25%) occurred in patients who received antirejection globulins or methylprednisolone and 1 (9.1%) developed when these agents were not administered (p = 0.33). The incidence of surgical complications after intracapsular and extracapsular nephrectomy was 20% and 17.6%, respectively (p = 0.58). Mean blood loss and the mean amount of blood transfused was 638 and 525 ml for intracapsular nephrectomy and 383 and 350 ml for extracapsular nephrectomy, respectively, respectively. Surgical complications occurred in 3 patients who received mycophenolate mofetil (23.1%) and in 6 (17.6%) who did not received this drug (p = 0.48).

Conclusions: Blood loss and surgical complication rates were higher in late failed graft nephrectomies. Surgical complications in intracapsular vs extracapsular nephrectomies were similar but blood loss and transfusions were higher for intracapsular nephrectomy. Acute rejection treatment, or prophylaxis with methylprednisolone or globulins increased the incidence of surgical complications.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Nephrectomy / adverse effects*
  • Nephrectomy / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Mycophenolic Acid