Background. The increased popularity of pancreas transplants has led to an increased number of potential candidates for retransplants after the initial graft has been lost to technical failure or rejection. We studied a group of recipients who underwent pancreas transplants at a single center to determine whether retransplant recipients were at higher risk of complications. Methods. Between June 1, 1994, and Dec 31, 1997, a total of 213 pancreas transplants were performed at the University of Minnesota. Of these, 187 were primary transplants and 26 were retransplants. Demographically, the two groups were not significantly different. We analyzed and compared the two groups with respect to incidence of surgical complications, graft survival rates, and patient survival rates. Results. Surgical complications such as bleeding and vascular thrombosis were slightly more common after retransplants, but this trend did not quite reach statistical significance. Infectious complications and leaks were equivalent between the two groups. The incidence of acute rejection was higher after retransplants (P =.02). At 3 years posttransplant, patient survival was no different between the two groups, but pancreas graft survival was lower after retransplants (P = .08). The incidence of early graft loss (by 6 months posttransplant) was significantly higher in retransplant recipients (27% vs 14%, P = .04). Conclusions. Pancreas retransplants can be performed with a minimal increase in surgical complications. However, graft survival after retransplants is slightly inferior to that after primary transplants, probably for both immunologic and nonimmunologic reasons. Retransplants can be offered to suitable candidates, but they may require more aggressive monitoring for rejection.
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