What does evaluation for pancreas transplantation consist of?

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People identified as pancreas transplant candidates undergo an extensive evaluation by the transplant team to determine if transplant is the best treatment option.

Since most pancreas transplant candidates have varying degrees of health problems, their pre-transplant evaluations are more extensive and individualized. Many people with type 1 diabetes suffer from kidney failure as a result of their disease, so many pancreas transplant surgeries are simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplants.

The pancreas transplant evaluation is usually completed in a one-day outpatient visit, although some additional consultations or testing may be required at a later time. The evaluation period allows potential candidates and their families to meet members of the pancreas transplant team and obtain information about pancreas transplantation.

During this initial visit, the potential candidates and their families meet with a transplant nurse coordinator and receive detailed information about transplant preparation, health management during the waiting period, anti-rejection medications and an overview of the transplant process.

If the transplant team decides that transplant is the best option and the candidate agrees, they are "listed for transplant."

Evaluation for pancreas transplantation consists of numerous consultations with the pancreas transplant team members, lab tests, and various procedures. The following tests will be included in the evaluation process, and additional tests and consultations may also be needed based on initial results or family history.
  • Mammography in women over 40 years old.
  • Blood tests for blood type and tissue typing (HLA) for organ matching, and screening tests for immunity to, or the presence of, specific viruses, including HIV.
  • Hemoglobin A1c (blood test) for diabetes control and a c-peptide test to evaluate the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin.
  • Additional blood tests may be used to determine how well other organs are functioning.
  • A chest x-ray to check for any lung problems.
  • Urine culture to test for infection.
  • An EKG, echocardiogram and/or stress test to check the heart and heart valves. This will aid the team in deciding if the patient's heart function is strong enough for transplant surgery, or if additional cardiac testing and treatment is needed.
  • Pulmonary function tests, especially if the patient has a history of smoking or a history of lung disease.
  • PPD to detect any exposure to tuberculosis.
  • Colonoscopy in patients over 50 years old.
  • PSA in men over 40 years old.
  • PAP smear in women over 21 years old.
In addition, patients may also require a chest CT scan, abdominal CT scan, upper endoscopy, carotid duplex studies, bone density testing, and other studies.

Patients who are deemed to be appropriate candidates for pancreas transplant will be listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), in order to receive a donor organ when it becomes available.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.