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Complications after pancreas transplantation

Troppmann, Christoph

Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation: February 2010 - Volume 15 - Issue 1 - p 112–118
doi: 10.1097/MOT.0b013e3283355349
Pancreas transplantation: Edited By Rainer Gruessner

Purpose of review The history of transplantation of the pancreas, unlike that of transplantation of other abdominal organs, has largely been shaped by the associated surgical complications. After more than three decades of progress, surgical-technical pancreas graft failure rates have decreased to approximately 8%. The most recent developments in this area are systematically reviewed in this article.

Recent findings Vascular graft thrombosis remains, by far, the most common cause of technical graft failure. Recent reports suggested that pancreas preservation with histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate solution (HTK) might be a risk factor for reperfusion pancreatitis, graft thrombosis and decreased short- and long-term graft survival. It remains unclear whether these results are, at least in part, related to HTK flush volumes and extended preservation (e.g.,>12 h). For selected thrombosed pancreas grafts, there has been renewed interest in pharmacological, interventional, and surgical salvage. For selected recipients with early pancreas graft thrombosis not amenable to a salvage intervention, transplant pancreatectomy in conjunction with immediate retransplantation has emerged as a viable option. For graft thrombosis prevention, the enhanced backtable pancreas vascular reconstruction techniques (e.g., gastroduodenal artery revascularization) proposed by some authors await more formal study. For prevention of native vascular complications in high-risk recipients, several technical modifications have been reported. Developments with respect to other surgical complications (wound infection, pancreatitis, leak, and bleeding) have been more incremental.

Conclusion Recent evidence underscores the importance of judicious donor and recipient selection and of optimization of preservation and surgical factors for excellent short- and long-term pancreas transplant outcomes.

Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California, USA

Correspondence to Christoph Troppmann, MD, FACS, Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis, 2315 Stockton Blvd., HSF 2030, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA Tel: +1 916 734 7267; fax: +1 916 734 7286; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.