Surveillance and rescue of pancreas grafts

Transplant Proc. Jul-Aug 2005;37(6):2644-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2005.06.085.


Background: Technical failure rates are higher for pancreas allografts (PA) compared with other solid organs. Posttransplant surveillance and prompt availability of rescue teams with multidisciplinary expertise both contribute to improve this result. We herein report a single institution's experience with posttransplant surveillance and rescue of PA.

Methods: A retrospective survey was performed of a consecutive series of 177 whole organ pancreas transplants in 173 patients. Antithrombotic prophylaxis was used in all recipients and tailored on anticipated individual risk of thrombosis. During the first posttransplant week, all PA were monitored with daily Doppler ultrasonography. Surgical complications were defined as all adverse events requiring relaparotomy during the initial hospital stay or the first 3 posttransplant months.

Results: A total of 26 relaparotomies were performed in 25 patients (14.7%). One recipient needed two relaparotomies (0.6%). Graft rescue was attempted in patients without permanent parenchymal damage at repeat surgery and in 12 recipients diagnosed with nonocclusive vascular thrombosis. Overall 25 grafts (96.3%) were rescued and one was lost. One-year recipient and graft survivals in patients with versus without complications potentially leading to allograft loss were 92.6% and 63.0% versus 94.4% and 94.3%, respectively. Excluding complications for which graft rescue was not possible, 1-year graft survival rate increased to 78.7%.

Conclusions: Close posttransplant surveillance can allow rescue of a relevant proportion of PA developing nonocclusive venous thrombosis or other surgical complications. Further improvement awaits better understanding of biological reasons for posttransplant complications jeopardizing PA survival and the development of more effective preventive measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Graft Survival / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Pancreas Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Pancreas Transplantation / immunology
  • Pancreas Transplantation / mortality
  • Pancreas Transplantation / physiology*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Postoperative Complications / classification
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis