Utility and safety of early allograft biopsy in adult deceased donor kidney transplant recipients

Evaldo Favi, Ajith James, Carmelo Puliatti, Phil Whatling, Mariano Ferraresso, Chiara Rui, Roberto Cacciola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Delayed graft function (DGF) is considered a risk factor for rejection after kidney transplantation (KTx). Clinical guidelines recommend weekly allograft biopsy until DGF resolves. However, who may benefit the most from such an aggressive policy and when histology should be evaluated remain debated. Methods: We analyzed 223 biopsies in 145 deceased donor KTx treated with basiliximab or anti-thymocyte globulin (rATG) and calcineurin inhibitor-based maintenance. The aim of the study was to assess the utility and safety of biopsies performed within 28 days of transplant. Relationships between transplant characteristics, indication, timing, and biopsy-related outcomes were evaluated. Results: Main indication for biopsy was DGF (87.8%) followed by lack of improvement in graft function (9.2%), and worsening graft function (3.1%). Acute tubular necrosis was the leading diagnosis (89.8%) whereas rejection was detected in 8.2% specimens. Rejection was more frequent in patients biopsied due to worsening graft function or lack of improvement in graft function than DGF (66.7% vs. 3.5%; P = 0.0075 and 33.3% vs. 3.5%; P = 0.0104, respectively) and in biopsies performed between day 15 and 28 than from day 0 to 14 (31.2% vs. 3.7%; P = 0.0002). Complication rate was 4.1%. Management was affected by the information gained with histology in 12.2% cases (7% considering DGF). Conclusions: In low-immunological risk recipients treated with induction and calcineurin inhibitors maintenance, protocol biopsies obtained within 2 weeks of surgery to rule out rejection during DGF do not necessarily offer a favourable balance between risks and benefits. In these patients, a tailored approach may minimize complications thus optimizing results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-368
JournalClinical and Experimental Nephrology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Allograft
  • Biopsy
  • Complication
  • Delayed graft function
  • Kidney transplant
  • Rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nephrology
  • Physiology (medical)


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