Preoperative assessment of the deceased-donor kidney: from macroscopic appearance to molecular biomarkers

Transplantation. 2014 Apr 27;97(8):797-807. doi: 10.1097/01.TP.0000441361.34103.53.


Variation in deceased-donor kidney quality can significantly affect outcomes after kidney transplantation. Suboptimal organ selection for a given recipient can result in primary nonfunction, premature graft failure, or inappropriate discard of a suitable organ. Appraisal and appropriate selection of deceased-donor kidneys for use in transplantation is therefore critical. A number of predictive tools have been developed to assist the transplant team in evaluating the suitability of a deceased-donor kidney for transplantation to a given recipient. These include stratification of donors into "standard-" or "expanded-criteria" categories based on clinical parameters, pre-implantation biopsy scores, donor risk scores, machine perfusion characteristics, functional kidney weight, donor biomarkers and molecular diagnostic tools, ex vivo viability assessment using postmortem normothermic perfusion, and overall macroscopic appraisal by the surgical team. Consensus as to the role and predictive value of each of these tools is lacking and clinical practice regarding evaluation and selection of kidneys varies considerably.In this review, we seek to critically appraise the literature and evaluate the levels of evidence for tools used to assess deceased-donor kidneys. Although a plethora of appraisal tools exist, very few demonstrate desirable predictive power to be useful in clinical decision-making. Further research using large, well-designed prospective studies is urgently needed to advance this important field of transplantation science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cadaver
  • Graft Survival*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Transplants / metabolism
  • Transplants / pathology*


  • Biomarkers