Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation

: 2009  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 112--115

Early post transplantation renal allograft perfusion failure due to intimal dissection of the renal artery

Omar Salem Khattab, Kais Al-Taee 
 Renal Transplant Center, Medical City Teaching Hospital, Baghdad, Iraq

Correspondence Address:
Omar Salem Khattab
General and Transplant Surgeon, College of Medicine, Baghdad University, P.O. Box: 19503, Baghdad


Transplant renal artery stenosis (TRAS) is a recognized and potentially curable cause of post transplant arterial hypertension, allograft dysfunction, and graft loss. It usually occurs 3 months to 2 years after transplantation, but early or later presentations are not uncommon. We present a case of renal artery narrowing due to intimal dissection that was managed medically.

How to cite this article:
Khattab OS, Al-Taee K. Early post transplantation renal allograft perfusion failure due to intimal dissection of the renal artery.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2009;20:112-115

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Khattab OS, Al-Taee K. Early post transplantation renal allograft perfusion failure due to intimal dissection of the renal artery. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2009 [cited 2023 Jan 29 ];20:112-115
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Full Text


Impairment of renal allograft perfusion in the early postoperative period is usually associated with acute transplant rejection. However, vas­cular complications such as transplant renal artery stenosis or graft venous thrombosis are rare, but critical causes. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

Sudden oliguria is often the initial symptom of decreased graft perfusion and indicates a need for immediate imaging evaluation. For this pur­pose, Doppler sonography is usually the first diagnostic procedure. [1] Although Doppler exa­mination readily measures the organ perfusion itself and may identify flow levels in the main renal vessels including the anastomotic region, the exact anatomic cause of perfusion failure cannot necessarily be identified. Therefore, in such challenging cases, the necessity for angio­graphy should be well recognized because it allows not only diagnosis but also the option of immediate correction of vascular complica­tions. The role of interventional radiology in the early period after transplantation has rarely been discussed. [4],[5],[6]

We herewith report a case of acute allograft perfusion failure associated with transplant renal artery stenosis due to intimal dissection for which stent angioplasty was technically undesirable, and conservative management was successful.

 Case Report

A 34-year-old Iraqi male was referred to the renal transplant center at the Medical City Teaching Hospital, Baghdad, Iraq for renal transplantation. His end-stage renal disease was due to chronic pyelonephritis and was on regu­lar hemodialysis. He underwent renal transplan­tation from his brother in July 2006; the left kidney with double arteries was transplanted. One of the arteries was lower polar and both were anastomosed end to end (double barrel) to the internal iliac artery in the right iliac fossa. Four immunosuppressive drugs were used in­cluding Basiliximab 20 mg given 2 hours prior to transplantation with a repeated dose on the 4th post-operative day, Azathioprine 1.5 mg/kg/d, Tacrolimus 0.2mg/kg/d, and corticosteroid (intra­venous methylprednisolone 1gm/d for three days, followed by oral prednisolone 30 mg/d). Dil­tiazem 240 mg/d and long-acting nifedipine 40 mg/d were given to control blood pressure. The postoperative period was uneventful, and the patient had brisk diuresis. His serum creatinine decreased from 7.8 to 1.1 mg/dL within 72 hours of surgery.

In the 14 th postoperative day the patient's serum creatinine increased suddenly to 2.3 mg/ dL, blood urea 185 mg/dL, and his urine output decreased significantly. Serum pota­ssium, WBC, platelet count, and lipid profile were within normal. Color Doppler ultrasono­graphy revealed very poor flow within the whole allograft, increased peak systolic velocity more than 200 cm/s within the renal artery, and resistive index [7] surgical tech­nique, [8] immunologic factors, [9] and cytomegalo­virus infection. [10] Theoretically, transplant renal artery stenosis associated with surgical tech­niques can also occur in the early postoperative days. An imperfect suturing technique of the anastomosis or kinking of the graft artery may cause early stenosis, requiring surgical correc­tion. [3],[11] On the other hand, excessive traction of the graft artery during the harvesting, cannu­lation for transplant perfusion, or a surgical clamp may cause endothelial injury or intimal tears, which can eventually result in vascular dissection. [4] Thin and unstable intimal flap may not necessarily be visualized with color doppler sonography, and delay in diagnosis may result in renal artery thrombosis and graft loss. [1] Sudden oliguria with doppler sonographic fin­dings of decreased graft perfusion is nonspe­cific for arterial dissection or even for trans­plant renal artery stenosis, especially with de­layed graft function and the differential diag­nosis may include acute rejection, acute tubular necrosis, cyclosporine toxicity, and graft venous thrombosis. [2] Vascular complications in the ear­ly post transplant period, should be much higher on the list of differential diagnosis, and angio­graphic confirmation is indicated.

In our patient, doppler sonography revealed severe perfusion failure of allograft, but failed to identify the vascular changes. Thus, our use of the emergency catheter angiography was warranted with the high index of suspicion. Contrast use during angiography can expose the patient to the potential risk of nephrotoxicity and contrast-enhanced MR angiography may be an alternative. [12]

Stent angioplasty is accepted as the treatment of choice for vascular dissection nevertheless, carries a higher risk of complications for steno­sis at the anastamosis line. [13] Surgical treatment of transplant renal artery stenosis is on the other hand often difficult, risking significant injury to renal hilar structures, and it is associated with a 15% graft loss and 5% mortality. [14]

In conclusion, transplant renal artery stenosis should be suspected in any renal transplant pa­tient with worsening renal function unexplained by rejection or cyclosporin toxicity. High index of suspicion, and early use of non-invasive diagnostic procedures (e.g., doppler ultrasono­graphy) may help in detecting significant steno­sis. Timely use of interventional radiology for recognition and management can help achieve full recovery of allograft kidney function.[Figure 1]


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