Transplantation of the Pancreas
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Pancreas transplantation consistently induces insulin-independence in beta-cell-penic diabetic patients, but at the cost of major surgery and life-long immunosuppression. One year after grafting, patient survival rate now exceeds 95 % across recipient categories, while insulin independence is maintained in some 85 % of simultaneous pancreas and kidney recipients and in nearly 80 % of solitary pancreas transplant recipients. The half-life of the pancreas graft currently averages 16.7 years, being the longest among extrarenal grafts, and substantially matching the one of renal grafts from deceased donors. The difference between expected (100 %) and actual insulin-independence rate is mostly explained by technical failure in the postoperative phase, and rejection in the long-term period. Death with a functioning graft remains a further major issue, especially in uremic patients who have undergone prolonged periods of dialysis. Refinements in graft preservation, surgical techniques, immunosuppression, and prophylactic treatments are expected to further improve the results of pancreas transplantation.