Background: During the past few years, there has been renewed interest in the use of expanded criteria donors (ECD) for kidney transplantation to increase the numbers of deceased donor kidneys available. More kidney transplants would result in shorter waiting times and limit the morbidity and mortality associated with long-term dialysis therapy.
Study design: Systematic review of the literature.
Setting & population: Kidney transplantation population.
Selection criteria for studies: Studies were identified by using a comprehensive search through MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Inclusion criteria were case series, cohort studies, and randomized controlled trials assessing kidney transplantation in adult recipients using ECDs.
Predictor: A special focus was given to studies comparing the evolution of kidney transplantation between standard criteria donors (defined as a donor who does not meet criteria for donation after cardiac death or ECD) and ECDs (defined as any brain-dead donor aged > 60 years or a donor aged > 50 years with 2 of the following conditions: history of hypertension, terminal serum creatinine level >or= 1.5 mg/dL, or death resulting from a cerebrovascular accident).
Outcomes: Criteria used to define and select ECDs, practice patterns, long-term outcomes, early complications, and some patient issues, such as selection criteria and immunosuppressive management.
Results: ECD kidneys have worse long-term survival than standard criteria donor kidneys. The optimal ECD kidney for donation depends on adequate glomerular filtration rate and acceptable donor kidney histological characteristics, albeit the usefulness of biopsy is debated.
Limitations: This review is based mainly on data from observational studies, and varying amounts of bias could be present. We did not attempt to quantitatively analyze the effect of ECD kidneys on kidney transplantation because of the huge heterogeneity found in study designs and definitions of ECD.
Conclusions: Based on the available evidence, we conclude that patients younger than 40 years or scheduled for kidney retransplantation should not receive an ECD kidney. Patients 40 years or older, especially with diabetic nephropathy or nondiabetic disease, but a long expected waiting time for kidney transplantation, show better survival receiving an ECD kidney than remaining on dialysis therapy.