Kidney transplant

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Kidney transplant
Anesthesia type General
Airway ETT
Lines and access PIV x2
Arterial line
+/- Central line
Monitors Standard, 5-lead ECG
Primary anesthetic considerations
Preoperative ESRD patients should have potassium checked preop
Intraoperative Mannitol, lasix, and heparin should be prepared, intraop immunosuppression should be running before reperfusion, potassium free IVF should be used
Postoperative Replace UOP with IVF, may have delayed graft function if increased cold storage time

Kidney transplantation provides patients with ESRD an opportunity to continue living without the need for frequent dialysis. Kidney transplants can either be from a deceased donor (aka cadaveric) or from a living donor, at times genetically related to the patient (aka living related), but not always (aka living-unrelated).

Preoperative management

Patient evaluation

System Considerations
Neurologic Peripheral neuropathy may be concurrent with diabetic nephropathy, and may also signal autonomic neuropathy
Cardiovascular CHF is common in undialyzed patients
Respiratory Pleural effusions and pleuritis may occur in this patient population. Increased susceptibility to infection is common in patients with uremia.
Gastrointestinal Gastroparesis may occur in diabetic patients with autonomic neuropathy
Hematologic Many patients will have chronic anemia as a result of low EPO
Renal Most patients will have ESRD, will need preop potassium check. May need to avoid or decrease dose of renally-metabolized meds
Endocrine If diabetic nephropathy is cause of ESRD, patient is likely to have other complications of severe diabetes

Labs and studies

  • CBC (pay attention to Hb for likely chronic anemia secondary to low erythropoietin production)
  • BMP (pay attention to K which may be elevated in ESRD)

Operating room setup

  • Prepare arterial line setup
  • Have mannitol, furosemide, heparin in room

Patient preparation and premedication

  • Midazolam, Tylenol

Regional and neuraxial techniques

  • Epidural or CSE may be used for postop pain management

Intraoperative management

Monitoring and access

  • After induction of anesthesia, a 3-way Foley catheter is placed into the bladder.
  • ± Arterial line for blood pressure monitoring and frequent lab draws, avoiding the side of the AV fistula

Induction and airway management

  • If K<5.5, succinylcholine may be used as a paralytic, otherwise, cisatracurium or rocuronium may be used


  • Supine
  • Avoid pressure on AV fistula which may lead to thrombosis. Must be carefully padded.

Maintenance and surgical considerations

  • Standard maintenance
  • Anticipate prolonged drug effects for renally metabolized/excreted medications
    • Avoid meperidine (which may accumulate as nomeperidine > CNS toxicity)
  • Have large vial of mannitol ready to give (preferably warmed to prevent crystallization)
  • May be instructed to clamp Foley by surgeons


  • Patients are usually extubated in the OR
  • Ensure adequate NMB reversal

Postoperative management


  • Usually to PACU
  • Patients with other concurrent transplants (pancreas, liver, etc) may be monitored in the ICU

Pain management

  • PCA
  • Epidural

Potential complications

  • Fistula thrombosis if improperly padded
  • Hemorrhage
  • Delayed urine output, dialysis may be needed until renal function returns
  • Bucking or coughing during emergence may lead to forceful tugging on transplanted kidney and disruption of anastomoses

Procedure variants

Variant 1 Variant 2
Unique considerations
Surgical time
Postoperative disposition
Pain management
Potential complications