Over 500 solitary pancreas transplants in nonuremic patients with brittle diabetes mellitus

Rainer W.G. Gruessner, David E.R. Sutherland, Raja Kandaswamy, Angelika C. Gruessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. A pancreas transplant alone (PTA) in a nonuremic patient with brittle diabetes mellitus remains a rare procedure because the tradeoff for insulin independence is lifelong immunosuppression. METHODS. Herein we report our results at the University of Minnesota of 513 PTAs from December 17, 1966, through December 31, 2006. Of these recipients, 87% had previously experienced hypoglycemic unawareness and 23% experienced coma and/or seizures. These transplants spanned four immunosuppressive eras: pre-cyclosporine A (pre-CsA) era (16%), CsA era (23%), tacrolimus (TAC) era (47%), and calcineurin-inhibitor (CNI)-free era (14%). RESULTS. The overall patient survival rate at 1 year posttransplant was about 95%; at 5 years, it was 90%. The pancreas graft survival rate at 1 year increased significantly from the pre-CsA era (31%) to the TAC era (75%), thanks to a significant decline in immunologic and technical failures. The CNI-free protocol, because of its high infection and hematologic infection rate, did not further improve outcome. Risk factors for subsequent kidney failure (13% at 5 years posttransplant) were serum creatinine levels >1.5 mg/dl at the time of the pancreas transplant and recipient age <30 years. CONCLUSIONS. A technically successful PTA is currently the only treatment option that allows nonuremic patients with brittle diabetes to become insulin-independent in the long term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Brittle diabetes mellitus
  • Hypoglycemic unawareness
  • Solitary pancreas transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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