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Transplant Proc. 2009 Dec;41(10):4047-51. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2009.09.077.

Renal cysts in living donor kidney transplantation: long-term follow-up in 25 patients.

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Department of Vascular Surgery and Renal Transplantation, University Hospital, Heinrich-Heine-University, Moorenstr. 5, D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.



The acceptance of a living donor kidney bearing cysts might implicate complications after the transplantation due to the natural history of renal cysts. We have presented our experience with transplantation of living donor kidneys containing cysts but not polycystic disease.


We retrospectively reviewed donor and recipient records of all living kidney transplants performed between January 1997 and April 2008. We analyzed serum creatinine and urea levels, as well as ultrasound scans concerning cyst size and morphology at hospital discharge as well as at 12 and 24 months after transplantation.


Among 268 living kidney transplantations, we noted 25 donors with renal cysts. In the computed tomography scan reports, 19 kidneys were described to show a single and six, multiple cysts. The size of 10 single cysts was <5 mm; the other nine were a mean of 17.33 mm. Two of the multiple cyst kidneys had lesions <5 mm; in four kidneys, the mean cyst size was 27.25 mm. The renal function of the recipients was normal or almost normal at discharge with a tendency to lower levels at 12 and 24 months after transplantation. Ultrasound revealed changes in cyst diameter among 6/23 kidneys; the mean diameter increased after 12 months, namely, 8.25 mm to 11.5 mm after 24 months. The subgroup of patients with enlarged cysts showed creatinine and urea levels slightly higher than in the entire group. No aspects of malignancy were found, according to the Bosniak and Israel classification system. One suspicious cyst was tomographically confirmed to be hemorrhagic without any need for treatment. None of the living donors had any problems related to the donor nephrectomy or a need for dialysis due to renal insufficiency in the long term. In addition, the living donors who had even beforehand cystic lesions in their contralateral nonremoved kidney at the time of transplantation did not show complications upon follow-up.


In our study, 25 living donor kidneys carried cysts. Neither cyst-related complications nor dysfunction of the transplanted organs occurred. An unroofing or excision of the cyst was generally not necessary. Regular ultrasound scans and optional computed tomography scans are recommended for follow-up. Based on this experience, we concluded that kidneys presenting cystic diseases should be considered to be suitable for transplantation without a hazard to the recipients, thus extending the pool of organs.

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