Objective: To compare portal and systemic venous drainage of pancreas transplants and demonstrate an immunologic and survival superiority of portal venous drainage. Summary Background Data: Traditionally, solitary pancreas transplants have been performed using systemic venous and bladder drainage, but more recently, the advantages of enteric drainage have been well documented. Although physiologic benefits for portal venous drainage have been described, the impact of portal venous drainage, especially with solitary pancreas transplants, has yet to be determined. Methods: Since August 1995, 280 pancreas transplants with enteric duct drainage were analyzed. One hundred and seventeen were simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK), 63 with systemic venous drainage (SV) and 54 with portal venous drainage (PV). The remainder were solitary transplants; 97 pancreas after kidney (PAK; 42 SV and 55 PV) and 66 transplants alone (PTA; 26 SV and 40 PV). Immunosuppressive therapy was equivalent for both groups. Results: The groups were similar with respect to recipient characteristics and HLA matching. Thirty-six month graft survival for all transplants was 79% for PV and 65% for SV (P = .008). By category, SPK graft survival was 74% for PV and 76% for SV, PAK graft survival was 70% for PV and 56% for SV, and PTA graft survival was 84% for PV and 50% for SV. The rate of at least one rejection episode was also significantly higher in the SV group. At 36 months, for all pancreas transplants, the rejection rate was 21% for PV and 52% for SV (P < .0001). For SPK, rejection rates were 9% for PV and 45% for SV. For PAK, rejection rates were 16% for PV and 65% for SV, and for PTA 36% for PV and 51% for SV. The rejection rates for kidneys following SPK were also lower in the PV group (26% versus 43% for SV). Furthermore, the grades of rejection were milder in PV for all transplants (P = .017). By multivariate analysis, portal venous drainage was the only parameter that significantly affected rejection. Conclusion: Graft survival and rejection is superior for PV. These clinical findings are consistent with published reports of experimentally induced portal tolerance and strongly argue that PV drainage should be the procedure of choice for pancreas transplantation.
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