150 episodes of allograft dysfunction in 128 renal transplant recipients, 77 due to acute rejection, 32 secondary to acute-on-chronic rejection, 33 due to either prerenal factors, acute tubular necrosis, or ciclosporin A nephrotoxicity, and 8 secondary to multiple causes, were evaluated by fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB), Doppler ultrasound (DUS), and radionuclide scintigraphy (RS), each performed within a 24-hour period and prior to any specific therapeutic intervention. Tests were interpreted by appropriate specialists in a large transplant center without access to clinical information. The final diagnosis was based primarily upon response to therapeutic maneuvers with histological (core biopsy) confirmation in 123 episodes. RS was the most sensitive (70%) test for the diagnosis of acute rejection during the early posttransplant period, exceeding both FNAB (52%) and DUS (43%). The predictive accuracy of either FNAB, DUS, RS, or core biopsy in the detection of a steroid-responsive component to acute rejection when superimposed upon chronic rejection was low at approximately 50%. When the underlying cause of renal dysfunction was either prerenal, acute tubular necrosis, or ciclosporin A nephrotoxicity, FNAB, DUS, and RS each gave an erroneous diagnosis of acute rejection in about 50% of the episodes. Cost analysis revealed that core biopsy was the most expensive test, but only 9% more than RS, with FNAB the least costly. In conclusion, the lack of ideal sensitivity and specificity combined with the expense of present-day FNAB, DUS, RS, and core biopsy in the diagnosis of a therapeutically reversible component to acute-on-chronic rejection and of FNAB, DUS, and RS in the diagnosis of acute rejection during the early posttransplant period should prompt research into ways to improve their diagnostic yield or alternate modalities.
- Doppler ultrasound
- Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
- Percutaneous biopsy
- Renal allograft dysfunction
- Renal scintigraphy