Cholesterol embolization in a renal graft

Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Jena, Jena, Germany.
Clinical Transplantation (Impact Factor: 1.52). 06/2008; 22(5):677-80. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2008.00836.x
Source: PubMed


Cholesterol embolization into native kidneys has a dim prognosis for renal function and frequently leads to irreversible renal failure. Although uncommon, cholesterol embolization may also occur in renal allografts, particularly if either the recipient or the donor has prominent atherosclerosis. We report here on a case of a 65-yr-old man with cholesterol emboli in the renal allograft and delayed graft function. The recipient's arteria iliaca externa was a potential source because of heavy atherosclerosis. The patient was dialysis-dependent for two wk after transplantation. However, renal function improved, no cholesterol emboli were found in a second biopsy of the graft and serum creatinine is 260 micromol/L six months after the transplantation. In the case of primary renal non-function or dysfunction, cholesterol embolization must be considered in the differential diagnosis. If renal cholesterol embolization originates from the recipient, allograft survival is usually good. In contrast, if cholesterol embolization is of donor origin, graft dysfunction and subsequent graft loss are common. The reason for this difference may be the more extensive embolization developing in an atherosclerotic cadaver donor occurring during the organ procurement or the severe trauma leading to death.

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    ABSTRACT: Atheroembolic renal disease can be defined as renal failure due to occlusion of the renal arterioles by cholesterol crystal emboli usually dislodged from ulcerated atherosclerotic plaques of the aorta. Atheroembolic renal disease is part of multisystem disease, since the embolization usually involves other organ systems such as the gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, and lower extremities. The kidney is frequently involved because of the proximity of the renal arteries to the abdominal aorta, where erosion of atheromatous plaques is most likely to occur. Embolization may occur spontaneously or after angiographic procedures, vascular surgery, and anticoagulation. In the last decade, atheroembolic renal disease has become a recognizable cause of renal disease. An ante-mortem diagnosis of the disease is possible in a significant proportion of cases as long as the level of diagnostic suspicion is high. The disease can severely affect kidney and patient survival. Although no specific treatment has been proven efficacious, use of statins may be justifiable and such therapy would be a reasonable choice for future treatment trials.
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