Vascular Anastomosis

The venous anastomosis is usually performed first. After total control of external iliac vein is achieved proximally and distally, a longitudinal venotomy is made in the side of the donor's renal vein opening. The anastomosis is then fashioned with 5-0 Prolene running sutures. The traditional arterial anastomosis with the internal iliac artery has the advantage of gaining some length from the internal iliac artery to overcome the shortness of the donor renal artery, particularly in a living kidney donor. This, however, requires more extensive dissection and ligation of the internal iliac artery, with various potential complications. Most surgeons prefer anastomosis to the external iliac artery in end-to-side fashion. When there are multiple arteries, a Carrel patch can be fashioned to include all the arteries in one patch, if the arteries are close enough in a cadaveric donor kidney. If the arteries are far apart or in a living donor kidney, then arterial reconstructions at the backtable will be needed. If both arteries are of equal size, they can be joined to the external iliac artery separately. In order to reduce the warm ischemic time during the arterial anastomosis, various techniques of arterial reconstruction can be performed at the backtable, as described earlier. Sometimes a small upper pole artery can be sacrificed, if it is too small for reconstruction; on the other hand, the lower pole artery is very important to the arterial blood supply of the ureter, so reconstruction should always be attempted. Usually, prosthetic materials (e.g., Gore-Tex) are not recommended for reconstruction.

Mannitol and furosemide are given just prior to releasing the vascular clamps for reperfusion. Upon reperfusion, hemostasis should be obtained by careful inspection of both anastomoses and ligation of all bleeders at small branches of the vessels. Warm irrigation fluid should be applied to help warm up the kidney. The kidney usually becomes firm and pink a few minutes are revascularization. The urine may begin to flow out of the ureter soon thereafter, particularly if the ischemia time was minimal. If the kidney remains flaccid after reperfusion, careful inspections of external iliac and renal arteries should rule out any arterial inflow problems. The systemic pressure and the central venous pressure must be maintained at an adequate level to ensure proper renal perfusion pressure. If vasospasm is suspected, papaverine or verapamil may be injected into the transplanted renal artery. If after all these measures the kidney is still flaccid and not producing urine, then the transplant kidney may be suffering from delayed graft function. Very rarely, hyperacute rejection should be considered as a possibility. A needle biopsy and/or wedge biopsy is taken at this point as the baseline histology control to be used for comparison in future biopsies.

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