Transplanted kidney function evaluation

Semin Nucl Med. 2014 Mar;44(2):129-45. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2013.10.005.


The best option for the treatment of end-stage renal disease is kidney transplantation. Prompt diagnosis and management of early posttransplantation complications is of utmost importance for graft survival. Biochemical markers, allograft biopsies, and imaging modalities are used for the timely recognition and management of graft dysfunction. Among several other factors, improvements in imaging modalities have been regarded as one of the factors contributing to increased short-term graft survival. Each imaging procedure has its own unique contribution to the evaluation of renal transplant dysfunction. In the era of multimodality imaging and emerging clinical considerations for the improvement of graft survival, evaluating an imaging modality in its own right may not be relevant and may fall short of expectation. Recognized as being mainly a functional imaging procedure, radionuclide imaging provides valuable information on renal function that cannot be obtained with other imaging modalities. For evaluating and establishing the current place, indications, and potential applications of radionuclide renal transplant imaging, a classification of renal allograft complications based on renal allograft dysfunction is essential. The major factor affecting long-term graft loss is chronic allograft nephropathy. Its association with early posttransplantation delayed graft function and repeated acute rejection episodes is well documented. Long-term graft survival rate have not improve significantly over the years. Imaging procedures are most commonly performed during the early period after transplantation. There seems to be a need for performing more frequent late posttransplantation imaging for the evaluation of acute allograft dysfunction, subclinical pathology, and chronic allograft changes; for understanding their contribution to patient management; and for identification of pathophysiological mechanisms leading to proteinuria and hypertension. With its unique advantage of relating perfusion to function, the potential for radionuclide imaging to replace late protocol biopsies needs to be investigated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney Function Tests / methods*
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Radionuclide Imaging