Successful pancreas transplantation requires surgical expertise and multidisciplinary medical management. The impact of transplant center volume on pancreas allograft survival remains unclear.Methods
We examined Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data on 11 568 simultaneous pancreas-kidney (SPK) and 4308 solitary pancreas (pancreas transplant alone and pancreas after kidney) transplants between 2000 and 2013.Results
Average annual transplant center volume was categorized by tertiles into low, medium, and high volume, respectively, as follows: 1 to 6 (n = 3861), 7 to 13 (n = 3891), and 14 to 34 (n = 3888) for SPK, and 1 to 3 (n = 1417), 4 to 10 (n = 1518), and 11 to 33 (n = 1377) for solitary pancreas transplants. Favorable donor characteristics were seen in low-volume centers. For SPK transplantation, low (adjusted hazard ration [aHR], 1.55, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.34-1.8) and medium (aHR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.07-1.44) center volumes were associated with a higher risk of early pancreas graft failure at 3 months. The increased risk associated with low center volume extended to 1, 5, and 10 years. For solitary pancreas transplants, low, but not medium, center volume was associated with a higher risk of early pancreas graft failure at 3 months (aHR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.232-1.976), and this risk persisted over 10 years. Patients transplanted at high-volume centers had better pancreas survival rates across all categories of the Pancreas Donor Risk Index.Conclusion
On average, low center volume were associated with higher risk for pancreas failure. Future studies should seek to identify care processes that support optimal outcomes after pancreas transplantation irrespective of center volume.