Systematic review of ablative therapy for the treatment of renal allograft neoplasms

Evaldo Favi, Nicholas Raison, Federico Ambrogi, Serena Delbue, Maria Chiara Clementi, Luca Lamperti, Marta Perego, Matteo Bischeri, Mariano Ferraresso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND To date, there are no guidelines on the treatment of solid neoplasms in the transplanted kidney. Historically, allograft nephrectomy has been considered the only reasonable option. More recently, nephron-sparing surgery (NSS) and ablative therapy (AT) have been proposed as alternative procedures in selected cases. AIM To review outcomes of AT for the treatment of renal allograft tumours. METHODS We conducted a systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 2009 Checklist. PubMed was searched in March 2019 without time restrictions for all papers reporting on radiofrequency ablation (RFA), cryoablation (CA), microwave ablation (MWA), high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), and irreversible electroporation (IRE) of solid tumours of the kidney allograft. Only original manuscripts describing actual cases and edited in English were considered. All relevant articles were accessed in full text. Additional searches included all pertinent references. Selected studies were also assessed for methodological quality using a tool based on a modification of the Newcastle Ottawa scale. Data on recipient characteristics, transplant characteristics, disease characteristics, treatment protocols, and treatment outcomes were extracted and analysed. Given the nature and the quality of the studies available (mostly retrospective case reports and small retrospective uncontrolled case series), a descriptive summary was provided. RESULTS Twenty-eight relevant studies were selected describing a total of 100 AT procedures in 92 patients. Recipient age at diagnosis ranged from 21 to 71 years whereas time from transplant to diagnosis ranged from 0.1 to 312 mo. Most of the neoplasms were asymptomatic and diagnosed incidentally during imaging carried out for screening purposes or for other clinical reasons. Preferred diagnostic modality was Doppler-ultrasound scan followed by computed tomography scan, and magnetic resonance imaging. Main tumour types were: papillary renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and clear cell RCC. Maximal tumour diameter ranged from 5 to 55 mm. The vast majority of neoplasms were T1a N0 M0 with only 2 lesions staged T1b N0 M0. Neoplasms were managed by RFA (n = 78), CA (n = 15), MWA (n = 3), HIFU (n = 3), and IRE (n = 1). Overall, 3 episodes of primary treatment failure were reported. A single case of recurrence was identified. Follow-up ranged from 1 to 81 mo. No cancer-related deaths were observed. Complication rate was extremely low (mostly < 10%). Graft function remained stable in the majority of recipients. Due to the limited sample size, no clear benefit of a single procedure over the other ones could be demonstrated. CONCLUSION AT for renal allograft neoplasms represents a promising alternative to radical nephrectomy and NSS in carefully selected patients. Properly designed clinical trials are needed to validate this therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2487-2504
Number of pages18
JournalWorld Journal of Clinical Cases
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Ablative therapy
  • Cryoablation
  • High-intensity focused ultrasonography
  • Irreversible electroporation
  • Kidney transplant
  • Microwave ablation
  • Neoplasm
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Renal allograft
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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