Post-transplant lymphoceles: a critical look into the risk factors, pathophysiology and management

Raja B. Khauli
Jeffrey S. Stoff, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Tammy Lovewell, UMass Memorial Health Care
Reza Ghavamian
Stephen P. Baker, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Document Type Article


To define better the prevalence and pathophysiology of lymphoceles following renal transplantation, we prospectively evaluated 118 consecutive renal transplants performed in 115 patients (96 cadaveric, 22 living-related, 7 secondary and 111 primary). Ultrasonography was performed post-operatively and during rehospitalizations or whenever complications occurred. Perirenal fluid collections were identified in 43 patients (36%). Lymphoceles with a diameter of 5 cm. or greater were identified in 26 of 118 cases (22%). Eight patients (6.8%) had symptomatic lymphoceles requiring therapy. The interval for development of symptomatic lymphoceles was 1 week to 3.7 years (median 10 months). Risk factors for the development of lymphoceles were examined by univariate and multivariate analysis, and included patient age, sex, source of transplants (cadaver versus living-related donor), retransplantation, tissue match (HLA-B/DR), type of preservation, arterial anastomosis, occurrence of acute tubular necrosis-delayed graft function, occurrence of rejection, and use of high dose corticosteroids. Univariate analysis showed a significant risk for the development of lymphoceles in transplants with acute tubular necrosis-delayed graft function (odds ratio 4.5, p = 0.004), rejection (odds ratio 25.1 p < 0.001) and high dose steroids (odds ratio 16.4, p < 0.001). When applying multivariate analyses using stepwise logistic regression, only rejection was associated with a significant risk for lymphoceles (symptomatic lymphoceles--odds ratio 25.08, p = 0.0003, all lymphoceles--odds ratio 75.24, p < 0.0001). When adjusting for rejection, no other risk factor came close to being significant (least p = 0.4). Therapy included laparoscopic peritoneal marsupialization and drainage in 1 patient, incisional peritoneal drainage in 4 and percutaneous external drainage in 3 (infected). All symptomatic lymphoceles were successfully treated without sequelae to grafts or patients. We conclude that allograft rejection is the most significant factor contributing to the development of lymphoceles. Therapy of symptomatic lymphoceles should be individualized according to the presence or absence of infection.