Purpose: In cadaveric renal transplantation a period of delayed graft function postoperatively is not uncommon and often associated with a poor outcome. We reviewed the biology of reperfusion injury and delayed graft function in renal transplantation, as well as its prevention, management and long-term effects.
Materials and methods: The medical literature covering acute tubular necrosis, delayed graft function in renal transplantation and immunology of ischemia reperfusion injury was reviewed.
Results: Delayed graft function is clearly associated with poor allograft survival, and is caused by an interaction of ischemic and immunological factors. Technical and pharmacological maneuvers can improve early function rates. The response to ischemic injury is complex, and may increase graft immunogenicity and promote the chronic proliferative changes seen in chronic allograft nephropathy.
Conclusions: Improvement in early renal function should be a primary goal in renal transplantation to enhance early and long-term results. Basic research into the injury response may yield insights into renal pathophysiology.