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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 1997 Jul-Aug;8(4):649-53.

Update on the use of percutaneous nephrostomy/balloon dilation for the treatment of renal transplant leak/obstruction.

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Department of Radiology, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, USA.



Retrospective evaluation of the efficacy of percutaneous nephrostomy and nephroureteral stent placement for treatment of post-transplant ureteral leak, and percutaneous nephrostomy and balloon dilation for treatment of post-transplant ureteral obstruction.


Data were reviewed for all patients who underwent percutaneous therapy for complications after renal transplantation between January 1985 and June 1995. A total of 61 patients with complications (leak, n = 17; obstruction, n = 44) had been treated. Patients underwent percutaneous nephrostomy followed by antegrade placement of a nephroureteral stent. In addition, all patients with obstruction also underwent ureteral balloon dilation. Follow-up ranged from 9 weeks to 24 months. Positive outcome was defined as nonsurgical closure of leak, significant improvement in renal function, and removal of the nephroureteral stent with maintenance of stable renal function.


Regarding ureteral leak, 10 of 17 patients (59%) healed after treatment. Seven patients (41%) did not respond and went on to surgical repair. All patients with early (n = 13) ureteral obstruction (< 3 months after transplantation), had improved renal function (P < .025). Sixty-two percent of patients with early obstruction were cured (tube out with stable renal function) and 38% went to surgery for ureteral repair. In patients with late (n = 31) obstruction (> 3 months after transplantation), renal function improved in only 58% (P < .01). Only 16% of patients with late obstruction were cured (tube out with stable renal function). Ureteral obstruction was persistent in the remaining patients and did not respond to multiple balloon dilations. All complications were minor and included 23 of 61 (38%) patients with urinary tract infections and nine of 61 (14%) patients with limited hematuria.


Percutaneous nephrostomy is very effective in improving renal function in patients with early obstruction. It is moderately successful in treating ureteral leak. Ureteral balloon dilatation is moderately effective for treatment of obstruction in the early (< 3 months) postoperative period. However, balloon dilation is minimally successful in curing ureteric obstruction occurring more than 3 months after transplantation.

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