The aim of this study was to investigate the volume-outcome relationship in kidney transplantation by examining graft and patient outcomes using standardized risk adjustment (observed-to-expected outcomes). A secondary objective was to examine the geographic proximity of low, medium, and high-volume kidney transplant centers in the United States.Summary of Background Data:
The significant survival benefit of kidney transplantation in the context of a severe shortage of donor organs mandates strategies to optimize outcomes. Unlike for other solid organ transplants, the relationship between surgical volume and kidney transplant outcomes has not been clearly established.Methods:
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients was used to examine national outcomes for adults undergoing deceased donor kidney transplantation from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2013 (15-year study period). Observed-to-expected rates of graft loss and patient death were compared for low, medium, and high-volume centers. The geographic proximity of low-volume centers to higher volume centers was determined to assess the impact of regionalization on patient travel burden.Results:
A total of 206,179 procedures were analyzed. Compared with low-volume centers, high-volume centers had significantly lower observed-to-expected rates of 1-month graft loss (0.93 vs 1.18, P<0.001), 1-year graft loss (0.97 vs 1.12, P<0.001), 1-month patient death (0.90 vs 1.29, P=0.005), and 1-year patient death (0.95 vs 1.15, P=0.001). Low-volume centers were frequently in close proximity to higher volume centers, with a median distance of 7 miles (interquartile range: 2 to 75).Conclusions:
A robust volume-outcome relationship was observed for deceased donor kidney transplantation, and low-volume centers are frequently in close proximity to higher volume centers. Increased regionalization could improve outcomes, but should be considered carefully in light of the potential negative impact on transplant volume and access to care.