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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 370-375
Renal allograft tuberculosis with infected lymphocele transmitted from the donor

1 Department of Medicine, Hamad General Hospital, Doha, Qatar
2 Department of Surgery, Hamad General Hospital, Doha, Qatar

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Date of Web Publication11-Mar-2014


Transmission of tuberculosis (TB) from a donor through renal transplantation is a rare incident. We are reporting a 53-year-old Qatari woman diagnosed with renal allograft TB infection. The disease was confirmed by isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from fluid from the lymphocele and demonstration of caseating granuloma in graft biopsy with acid-fast bacilli seen on Ziehl-Neelsen staining. The diagnosis was made quite early post-transplantation. The presence of the granuloma, which is unusual with patients on intensive immunosuppressant medications, suggests that transmission of the infection occurred from the donor rather than from the activation of latent infection. In reviewing the literature, we found ten case reports of TB in transplanted kidney with transmission of TB infection from the donor. The presence of TB in lymphocele in association with the infected transplant by TB, to the best of our knowledge, was reported only once in the literature. Our case had unfavorable outcome and ended by renal allograft nephrectomy and hemodialysis. We are presenting this case of TB infection of renal allograft and lymphocele diagnosed early post-transplantation transmitted from the donor and pertinent review from the literature.

How to cite this article:
Al-Nesf MA, Al-Ani OI, Al-Ani AA, Rashed AH. Renal allograft tuberculosis with infected lymphocele transmitted from the donor. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2014;25:370-5

How to cite this URL:
Al-Nesf MA, Al-Ani OI, Al-Ani AA, Rashed AH. Renal allograft tuberculosis with infected lymphocele transmitted from the donor. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Jun 1];25:370-5. Available from: http://www.sjkdt.org/text.asp?2014/25/2/370/128549

   Introduction Top

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most common opportunistic infections developing following renal transplantation. The incidence of TB among organ recipients is as much as 74-times that of the general population. [1] The incidence differs in the literature from region to region, accounting for as high as 5.7-11.8 % in India and less than 1% in the United States. [1],[2] It carries a high mortality and morbidity rate in addition to graft dysfunction and loss among renal transplant recipients. [2]

Mycobacterium tuberculosis can be transmitted by transplantation [Table 1]. It was estimated previously to account for 4% of the reported post-transplant TB cases. [1] The presence of TB-infected lymphocele or para-nephric abscess along with the transplanted kidney is a rare occurrence, and, to the best of our knowledge, was reported only once before. [3]
Table 1: Tuberculosis isolated to renal allograft transmitted from donor with or without dissemination of tuberculosis by case reports and case series.

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   Case Report Top

A 53-year-old Qatari female patient with chronic kidney disease secondary to long-standing diabetes mellitus (DM) and hypertension, had two live unrelated renal allograft transplants. The first transplant was performed in 1993. She sustained chronic allograft rejection and ended up in transplant failure in early 2000. The second renal transplant was performed in November 2005. The transplantation was carried out in a different center (in Philippines) with a haplo-matched donor. Further detailed information about the donor was not available. It was followed by multiple complications, including dehiscence of the transplant wound with a sinus having persistent discharge from lymphocele. She developed allograft dysfunction; the initial one was secondary to cyclosporine toxicity proven by the allograft biopsy in December 2005.

She was re-admitted in January 2006 with rising urea and creatinine. She was complaining of abdominal pain and low-grade fever. Escherichia coli wound infection was found and was treated initially, but the patient continued to be febrile. There was no past history of TB in the patient or in her family. Purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test was negative prior to transplantation. No isoniazid (INH) prophylaxis was given. She was maintained on multiple immunosuppressant drugs including mycophenolate mofetil, cyclosporine and prednisolone.

Physical examination showed a febrile patient (38.2°C) with stable hemodynamic status. There was no lymphadenopathy or rash. Retina examination showed no evidence of choroidal TB. Abdominal examination revealed left side palpable allograft kidney. Other systemic examinations were unremarkable.

The initial investigations showed hemoglobin 6.9 g/dL, total leukocyte count 2100/mm 3 , polymorphs 38.6%, lymphocytes 48% and platelets 125,000/μL. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 102 mm in the first hour. Urine examination was negative and no acid-fast bacilli (AFB) was seen in Ziehl-Neelsen (Z-N) staining. Serum urea was 15.5 mmol/L, creatinine was 128 μmol/L and calcium was 2.17 mmol/L. Blood and urine cultures done this time were sterile. Chest X-ray and computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest were normal. Ultrasound, CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen showed a large lymphocele surrounding the transplant, with normal angiographic appearance of pelvic veins and arteries, atrophic native and normal-appearing renal graft. There was no evidence of TB at any site. Transplant renogram showed normal perfusion with normal parenchymal appearance.

Repeated gram staining and cultures of lymphocele fluid were negative. However, lymphocele fluid was reported positive for AFB staining and the culture grew Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The second transplant kidney biopsy showed tubulo-interstitial inflammation with non-caseating granulomas with AFB seen on Z-N staining. There was no evidence of concomitant fungal infections [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Renal allograft biopsy showing acidfast bacilli was stained positive (modified Ziehl– Neelsen stain) seen in granuloma (arrow).

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The patient was started on full-dose quadruple anti-tubercular therapy (rifampicin, isoniazide, ethambutol and pyrazinamide). Despite the early diagnosis and treatment, the patient continued to have deterioration of the kidney function associated with symptomatic volume overload requiring hemodialysis. Because of persistent fever despite anti-tubercular and empirical antifungal therapy, although with no apparent focus of fungal infection, transplant nephrectomy was performed. Histopathology of the removed graft was positive for fungal hyphae and spores; however, no culture was performed. After nephrectomy, the patient responded well to treatment. She was continued on anti-tubercular therapy for a total of one year. She is currently maintained on regular hemodialysis without evidence of tuberculosis reactivation.

   Discussion Top

TB is more frequent in renal transplant recipients than in the general population in tropics. [2],[4] In developed countries, the disease represents a significant health problem in patients following renal transplantation. [1] It causes serious damage to the graft and may lead to graft loss either because of delayed diagnosis or due to renal allograft rejection that can be attributed to the reduction in efficiency of the immunosuppressant drugs. [4],[5]

The risk factors of TB post-renal transplantation are highly influenced by disease endemicity and the immunosuppressant regimen used following transplantation. [6]

Early tuberculosis infection (within the first year) post-transplantation was associated with the use of cyclosporine therapy. [6],[7] Other risk factors for post-transplantation TB were DM and chronic liver diseases (CLDs). The combination of both DM and CLD and pre- or post-transplantation TB, along with other co-existing infections, are important risk factors for death. [7] The risk of post-transplant TB is increased in relation to prolonged duration of pre-transplant hemodialysis and the number of post-transplant rejection episodes. [6],[8] The frequency of TB has been also correlated with a maintenance steroid dose of more than 10 mg/day or the use of pulse steroid therapy. [6]

The routine use of INH prophylaxis is controversial in endemic areas. While earlier it was not recommended by some, because of the high degree of PPD skin test positivity in the general population and the high frequency of false-negative tests among chronic renal failure patients, [4] it is being advised now by others. [6],[7] INH hepatotoxicity may not be as high as previously thought, especially in non-hepatic transplant recipients. [1]

The diagnosis of TB is often made retrospectively after observing a complete response to anti-TB therapy. The most common site for TB is pleuro-pulmonary in renal transplant patients, accounting for 28-50%, followed by disseminated TB. Patients presenting with pyrexia of undetermined etiology account for 20-40%. [4] Examination of the retina is important to differentiate disseminated TB from isolated graft infection. [9] The other method is by bone marrow examination, which is not routinely done.

The time to TB diagnosis from transplantation date in renal allograft recipients varies. On an average, it usually occurs more than two years following transplantation. It was estimated to occur 11 months following transplantation by some studies. [1],[10]

A search of the literature by us revealed that transmission of TB from the donor along with the transplanted kidney was reported only in ten patients in previous case reports and case series. Characteristics of those patients in comparison with our case are summarized in [Table 1]. Previously, it was estimated to account for 4% of the reported post-transplant TB cases. [1]

Occurrence of TB in renal allograft with infected lymphocele or para-nephric abscess is reported in only one previous case report. [3] In this case report, transmission from donor was not suggested and it was diagnosed five months post-transplantation by both ultrasound-guided aspirate from peri-nephric collection and urine being tested positive for AFB. Our patient did not have any of the recognized risk factors for TB, including previous exposure, malnutrition or living in an endemic area. The incidence of all forms of TB in Qatar was 55/100,000 population in 2008. [11]

Our case report is unique in providing diagnosis of the TB from the lymphocele discharge as usually the infection is checked in the urine sample and in the allograft biopsy where granulomas with AFB-positive bacilli are found. [12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18]

Moreover, our case was unusual compared with previously reported cases as the transmission occurred from a live unrelated transplant rather than a deceased donor transplant [Table 1].

Finding a granuloma formation in the early course post-transplantation supports the high possibility of transmission of the infection from the donor kidney rather than activation of latent infection in the host. It was assumed earlier that a high dose of corticosteroids plays an important role in the presentation of an exudative form of TB, preventing the formation of granulomas, and granulomatous forms occur mainly after the first year of transplantation. [5]

The initial renal graft biopsy was negative for presence of granulomatosis disease. We believe that the reason for that is related to the nature of granulomatosis that was scattered throughout and not involving the whole organ. Possibly, the first biopsy missed an area with granulomas. Also, it is important to mention that superinfection with E. coli masked the presentation. Moreover, the fungal infection that involved the transplanted kidney was not present at the beginning and it was not shown in either biopsy taken earlier. The immunosuppression was stopped with nephrectomy performed in order to gain control of the infection. These are common problems with this type of patient.

Transmission of TB from the donor should be suspected when there is absence of clear risk factors or other evidence from recipient pre-transplantation screening. [16] Other recipients from a common donor might be at risk and should be evaluated for TB as well. [9],[14],[16],[17]

TB of the renal allograft should be seriously considered in any transplant patient with pyrexia of unknown origin. Renal allograft biopsy should be performed as early as possible for every transplant case where a cause for fever is not reached.

Because it often goes unsuspected, a high index of suspicion is needed to diagnose it timely in order to avoid graft loss. TB transmitted with the organ donor should be thought of if the donor status is unknown or if the donor is from endemic areas. Other recipients from the same donor should be checked as well.

   Conflict of Interest Top

The authors of this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to disclose as described by the Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation. Also, this manuscript was not prepared or funded by any commercial organization.

   References Top

1.Singh N, Paterson DL. Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in solid-organ transplant recipients: Impact and implications for management. Clin Infect Dis 1998;27:1266-77.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sakhuja V, Iha V, Varma PP, loshi K, Chugh KS. The high incidence of tuberculosis among renal transplant recipients in India. Transplantation 1996;61:211-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Wong TY, Szeto CC, Ho KK, Leung CB, Li PK. Successful medical eradication of tuberculosis paranephric abscess in renal transplantation. Nephrol Dial Transplant 1999; 14: 1288-90.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Jha V, Chugh S, Chugh KS. Infections in dialysis and transplant patients in tropical countries. Kidney Int 2000;57:S85-93.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Biz E, Pereira CA, Moura LA, et al. The use of cyclosporine modifies the clinical and histopathological presentation of tuberculosis after renal transplantation. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 2000;42:225-30.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.John GT, Shankar V, Abraham AM, Mukundan U, Thomas PP, Jacob CK. Risk factors for post-transplant tuberculosis. Kidney Int 2001; 60:1148-53.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.John GT. Infections after renal transplantation in India. Indian J Nephrol 2003;13:14-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
  Medknow Journal  
8.Basiri A, Moghaddam SM, Simforoosh N, et al. Preliminary report of a nationwide case-control study for identifying risk factors of tuberculosis following renal transplantation. Transplant Proc 2005;37:3041-4.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Mansour AM. Renal allograft tuberculosis. Tubercle 1990;71:147-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Naqvi R, Akhtar S, Noor H, et al. Efficacy of isoniazid prophylaxis in renal allograft recipients. Transplant Proc 2006;38:2057-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.TB Unit of the WHO Regional Office for Eastern-Mediterranean Region: Country profile 2008-2009: QATAR.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Siu YP, Tong MK, Leung KT, Yung CY. Successful kidney re-transplantation in a patient with previous allograft kidney tuberculosis. Transpl Infect Dis 2004;6:132-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Qunibi WY, al-Sibai MB, Taher S, et al. Mycobacterial infection after renal transplantation-report of 14 cases and review of the literature. Q J Med 1990;77:1039-60.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Peters TG, Reiter CG, Boswell RL. Transmission of tuberculosis by kidney transplantation. Transplantation 1984;38:514-6.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Transplantation-Transmitted Tuberculosis - Oklahoma and Texas, 2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008;57:333-6.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Mourad G, Soulillou JP, Chong G, Pouliquen M, Hourman M, Mion C. Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with Renal Allografts. Nephron 1985;43:82-5.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Graham JC, Kearns AM, Magee JG, et al. Tuberculosis transmitted through transplantation. J Infect 2001;43:251-4.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Malone A, McConkey S, Dorman A, Lavin P, Gopthanian D, Conlon P. Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a renal transplant transmitted from the donor. Ir J Med Sci 2007;176:233-5.  Back to cited text no. 18

Correspondence Address:
Maryam Ali Al-Nesf
Department of Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation, P. O. Box 3050, Doha
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DOI: 10.4103/1319-2442.128549

PMID: 24626006

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