Pre-Implantation trial of Histopathology In renal Allografts (PITHIA): A stepped-wedge cluster randomised controlled trial protocol

John Ayorinde, Dominic Summers, Laura Pankhurst, Emma Laing, Alison J. Deary, Karla Hemming, Edward Wilson, Victoria Bardsley, Desley A. Neil, Gavin Pettigrew

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Introduction: Most potential kidney transplant donors in the UK are aged over 60 years, yet increasing donor age is associated with poorer graft survival and function. Urgent preimplantation kidney biopsy can identify chronic injury, and may aid selection of better ‘quality’ kidneys from this group. However, the impact of biopsy on transplant numbers remains unproven. The PreImplantation Trial of Histopathology In renal Allografts (PITHIA) study will assess whether the introduction of a national, 24 hours, digital histopathology service increases the number, and improves outcomes, of kidneys transplanted in the UK from older deceased donors.

Methods and analysis: PITHIA is an open, multicentre, stepped-wedge cluster randomised study, involving all UK adult kidney transplant centres. At 4-monthly intervals, a group of 4–5 randomly selected clusters (transplant centres) will be given access to remote, urgent, digital histopathology (total intervention period, 24 months). The trial has two primary end points: it is powered for an 11% increase in the proportion of primary kidney offers from deceased donors aged over 60 years that are transplanted, and a 6 mL/min increase in the estimated glomerular filtration rate of recipients at 12 months post-transplant. This would equate to an additional 120 kidney transplants performed in the UK annually. Trial outcome data will be collected centrally via the UK Transplant Registry held by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and will be analysed using mixed effects models allowing for clustering within centres and adjusting for secular trends. An accompanying economic evaluation will estimate the cost-effectiveness of the service to the National Health Service.

Ethics and dissemination: The study has been given favourable ethical opinion by the Cambridge South Research Ethics Committee and is approved by the Health Research Authority. We will present our findings at key transplant meetings, publish results within 4 years of the trial commencing and support volunteers at renal patient groups to disseminate the trial outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere026166
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2019

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