The role of bariatric surgery on kidney transplantation: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Can Urol Assoc J. 2021 Oct;15(10):E553-E562. doi: 10.5489/cuaj.7109.


Introduction: Obesity (body mass index [BMI] >35 kg/m2) remains a relative contraindication for kidney transplant, while patients after kidney transplantation (KTX) are predisposed to obesity. The present study aims to investigate the role of bariatric surgery in improving transplant candidacy in patients prior to KTX, as well its safety and efficacy in KTX patients postoperatively.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted up to March 2020. Both comparative and non-comparative studies investigating the role of bariatric surgery before or after KTX were considered. Outcomes included change in BMI, rates of mortality and complications, and the rate of patients who underwent KTX following bariatric surgery. Pooled estimates were calculated using the random effects meta-analysis of proportions.

Results: Twenty-one studies were eligible for final review; 11 studies investigated the role of bariatric surgery before KTX. The weighted mean BMI was 43.4 (5.7) kg/m2 at baseline and 33.9 (6.3) kg/m2 at 29.1 months followup. After bariatric surgery, 83% (95% confidence interval [CI] 57-99) were successfully listed for KTX and 83% (95% CI 65-97) of patients subsequently received successful KTX. Ten studies investigated the role of bariatric surgery after kidney transplant. Weighted mean baseline BMI was 43.8 (2.2) kg/m2 and mean BMI at 19.5 months followup was 34.2 (6.7) kg/m2. Overall, all-cause 30-day mortality was 0.5% for both those who underwent bariatric surgery before or after receiving a KTX. The results of this study are limited by the inclusion of only non-randomized studies, limited followup, and high heterogeneity.

Conclusions: Bariatric surgery may be safe and effective in reducing weight to improve KTX candidacy in patients with severe obesity and can also be used safely following KTX.

Publication types

  • Review