EARLY FUNCTION AS THE PRINCIPAL CORRELATE OF GRAFT SURVIVAL
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We examined the factors determining graft survival in 200 consecutive cadaveric renal transplants managed on a quadruple-therapy protocol: Minnesota antilymphoblast globulin, cyclosporine, azathioprine, and low-dose prednisone. Perioperative central venous pressure monitoring and volume expansion were emphasized. To avoid CsA nephrotoxicity in the early posttransplant period, patients were treated with ALG until renal function was established (a mean of 7 days). Therapeutic CsA levels were achieved before ALG was discontinued. Azathioprine was used to supplement CsA in patients with nephrotoxicity or rejection. Twelve-month graft survival was 85% (first transplants 86%, retransplants 79%), with patient survival of 95%. ALG was not associated with excessive clinical cytomegalovirus infections, which occurred in 5% of patients, or with malignancy. When 3 technical failures were excluded, an analysis of numerous factors in the pretransplant and peritransplant period revealed that the strongest correlate of one-year graft survival was early renal function. Grafts with delayed function (DF) had 75% survival, compared with 91% for grafts with good early function (EF). A multivariate analysis confirmed this association: the relative risk of graft loss was increased 2.86 times for DF compared with EF. The mechanism of the deleterious effect of DF was apparently multifactorial: the DF group, by definition, contained all the kidneys that never functioned, but some risk also persisted in kidneys that achieved function. One reason for this may be that DF kidneys that achieved function had higher mean serum creatinine values at 1 month: elevated serum creatinine values at 1 month were strongly associated with increased risk of graft loss regardless of initial function. There was also a higher number of rejection episodes diagnosed in the DF group. These observations suggest that early renal function is a major determinant of graft outcome and should be a target for efforts to further improve renal graft survival.
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