Equivalent Success of Simultaneous Pancreas Kidney and Solitary Pancreas Transplantation: A Prospective Trial of Tacrolimus Immunosuppression with Percutaneous Biopsy

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ObjectiveThis study was designed to evaluate the results of solitary pancreas transplantation in a protocol that uses the new immunosuppressant tacrolimus (FK) and liberally applies ultrasound-guided percutaneous pancreas biopsy to diagnose rejection.Summary Background DataPancreas graft survival in patients who simultaneously receive a kidney transplant (SPK) historically has been 75% to 90% at 1 year, approaching that of cadaveric kidney transplantations. In sharp contrast, graft survival rates in patients who receive a pancreas alone (PA) have remained static over the past decade, with approximately 50% functional at 1 year. It was hypothesized that the results of PA transplantations would improve with newer maintenance immunosuppressants and biopsy techniques.MethodsTwenty-seven PA recipients prospectively were treated with FK-based immunosuppression (PA-FK). Percutaneous biopsy was performed for hyperamylasemia, hyperlipasemia, hypoamylasuria, or unexplained fever. One year pancreas graft survival in these patients was compared to 15 cyclosporine treated PA cases (PA-CsA) and 113 SPK recipients.ResultsThe 1-year pancreas graft survival rate of 90.1% in technically successful PA-FK patients was significantly better than the 53.4% rate in PA-CsA recipients (p = 0.002) and no different than the 87.4% rate in SPK recipients. The only graft lost to acute rejection in the PA-FK group was because of acknowledged patient noncompliance. Percutaneous biopsy substantially improved the diagnostic certainty in cases of suspected rejection and was associated with a low complication rate (3/178 = 1.5%).ConclusionsModern immunosuppression and biopsy techniques have improved the success of solitary pancreas transplantations to the point where outcome is now equivalent to that of SPKs.

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