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Keywords:

  • graft survival;
  • immunosuppression;
  • morbidity;
  • mycophenolate mofetil;
  • pancreas transplantation;
  • portal-enteric;
  • simultaneous kidney–pancreas transplantation;
  • surgical technique;
  • tacrolimus

Abstract: Background/Aims:  Refinements in surgical techniques and advances in clinical immunosuppression have led to steadily improving results in pancreas transplantation (PTX). Although there is renewed interest in enteric exocrine drainage, most PTXs are performed with systemic venous delivery of insulin. To improve the physiology of PTX, we developed a novel technique of portal venous delivery of insulin and enteric drainage of the exocrine secretions (portal-enteric [P-E]). The purpose of the study was to analyse outcomes in patients undergoing PTX with P-E drainage and contemporary immunosuppression.

Materials and methods:  From January 1997 through September 2002, we performed 67 primary simultaneous kidney–PTXs (SKPT) with P-E drainage. Maintenance immunosuppression consisted of tacrolimus (TAC), mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and steroids. No antibody induction therapy occurred in 33 patients (49%) with the remainder receiving daclizumab (n = 15), basiliximab (n = 2), or thymoglobulin (n = 14) induction therapy. The patient group included 38 males and 29 females with a mean age of 39.7 year (range 23–58) and a mean duration of pretransplant diabetes of 24.5 year (9–46). Fourteen patients (21%) were African-American.

Results: The mean waiting time for SKPT was 3.3 months (range 0.1–10). Mean kidney and pancreas cold ischaemia times were 15.1 and 15.4 h, respectively. Patient, kidney and pancreas graft survival rates were 97%, 92.5% and 82%, respectively, with a mean follow-up of 20 months (range 1–56). Two deaths (one sepsis, one cardiac event) occurred at 1 month after SKPT; both patients died with functioning grafts (DWFG). Three patients (4.5%) had delayed renal allograft function and received temporary dialysis after SKPT. Five kidney graft losses occurred (two DWFG, one thrombosis, two chronic rejection). All but four patients (6%) had immediate PTX function. A total of 12 pancreas graft losses occurred (two DWFG, five thrombosis, five chronic rejection). The incidence of acute rejection was 28%, but no grafts were lost due to isolated acute rejection. The incidence of major infection was 51%, but only five patients (7.5%) developed cytomegalovirus infection. A total of 19 patients (28%) underwent early relaparotomy within 3 months of SKPT. The composite endpoint of no rejection, graft loss, or mortality was attained by 63% of patients. At present, 58 patients (87%) are both dialysis and insulin-independent (including four retransplants).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that SKPT with P-E drainage and contemporary immunosuppression may result in excellent intermediate-term outcomes.