The use of allograft biopsies to guide treatment after solid organ transplantation is a valuable tool in the detection and treatment of rejection. Prior development and use of the cystoscopically guided pancreatic allograft biopsy have allowed for more accurate and timely diagnosis of pancreatic allograft dysfunction, possibly contributing to our 1-year pancreas graft, renal allograft and patient survival rates of 87.1%, 88.5% and 96.8%, respectively. We reviewed our experience, examining efficacy and complication rates of pancreas and kidney biopsies in 31 cadaveric pancreas or combined kidney and pancreas transplants performed between June 1990 and February 1992 with at least 1 year of followup. There were 94 pancreas, 54 kidney and 53 duodenal mucosal biopsies in 29 evaluable patients. This biopsy technique uses a 24.5F side-viewing nephroscope to view the cystoduodenostomy, with the duodenum acting as a portal for biopsy needles into the pancreas. Pancreatic tissue is obtained with either an 18 gauge, 500 mm. Menghini aspiration/core needle or an 18 gauge, 500 mm. Roth core needle. Percutaneous renal allograft biopsies are performed independently or simultaneously with the pancreas biopsies using a 16 gauge spring loaded needle. Pancreas biopsies were prompted by clinical indications of rejection (decreased urinary amylase, increased serum amylase or increased serum creatinine) or by protocol (10, 21 and 40 days postoperatively). Among the biopsies 30% were required by protocol, of which 10 (36%) revealed abnormal pathological findings and 5 (18%) showed evidence of occult cellular rejection. Renal biopsies demonstrated rejection in 69% of the cases. Of simultaneous pancreas/kidney biopsies 33% revealed concomitant rejection. A total of 88 Menghini needles with 170 passes was used in 73 biopsy attempts, yielding 126 tissue cores with a 16% complication rate. A total of 41 Roth needles was used with 73 passes in 34 biopsy attempts, yielding 55 tissue cores with a complication rate of 21%. Complications included self-limited bleeding from the biopsy site in 13% of the cases, bleeding requiring clot evacuation and fulguration in 1% and asymptomatic hyperamylasemia in 12%. Renal biopsy complications included 1 arteriovenous fistula (2%). We conclude that ultrasound and cystoscopically guided pancreatic allograft biopsy and percutaneous renal allograft biopsies are safe and essential methods of obtaining tissue for histological diagnosis without serious sequelae. The Menghini and Roth needles in cystoscopically guided pancreatic allograft biopsy have similar yield and complication rates in obtaining pancreatic tissue, although they require different performance techniques. In some cases both needles are necessary and are complementary in obtaining adequate tissue. Duodenal biopsies can correlate with pancreatic rejection but are preferable only when pancreatic tissue cannot be obtained. Protocol biopsies are useful in managing kidney and pancreas allografts with surveillance by histological investigation for evidence of allograft rejection or nephrotoxicity. Urologists who treat pancreas transplant patients should be aware of the cystoscopically guided pancreatic allograft biopsy technique.
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