Allograft immunobiologic theory would predict that analysis of immunocompetent cells infiltrating the renal transplant would be most instructive. Recently a new aspiration biopsy technique has been developed to permit such analysis in patients which can be safely and repetitively performed. The clinical utility of such a technique has been tested utilizing a randomized prospective trial in which an aspirate was obtained every other day from the third post-operative day until discharge. Analysis included examination of adequacy criteria and the capacity of pathologic diagnosis to corroborate clinical diagnosis from coded specimens. Ninety-six aspirates from 21 consenting transplant recipients were obtained and analyzed. In 94 instances a clinical diagnosis could be made; 80 aspirates fulfilled adequacy criteria. We found the technqiue to be highly sensitive (≥ 90%) and highly specific (≥ 90%) for the clinical diagnoses of acute allograft rejection, post-operative acute renal failure, cyclosporine toxicity, and normal function. We conclude that the fine needle aspiration technique is an important adjunct to analysis of clinical renal transplantation and offers a major advantage to the clinical scholar in understanding transplant biology.
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