Big data in organ transplantation: registries and administrative claims

Am J Transplant. 2014 Aug;14(8):1723-30. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12777.


The field of organ transplantation benefits from large, comprehensive, transplant-specific national data sets available to researchers. In addition to the widely used Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)-based registries (the United Network for Organ Sharing and Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients data sets) and United States Renal Data System (USRDS) data sets, there are other publicly available national data sets, not specific to transplantation, which have historically been underutilized in the field of transplantation. Of particular interest are the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and State Inpatient Databases, produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The USRDS database provides extensive data relevant to studies of kidney transplantation. Linkage of publicly available data sets to external data sources such as private claims or pharmacy data provides further resources for registry-based research. Although these resources can transcend some limitations of OPTN-based registry data, they come with their own limitations, which must be understood to avoid biased inference. This review discusses different registry-based data sources available in the United States, as well as the proper design and conduct of registry-based research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Statistical
  • Organ Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries*
  • Research Design
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality