Although the life expectancy of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) has improved since the introduction of insulin therapy, the acute life-threatening and long-term complications from diabetes mellitus are significant causes of both mortality and morbidity. Percutaneous intra-portal pancreatic islet transplantation (PIPIT) is a minimally invasive, repeatable procedure which allows a ß-cell replacement therapy through a liver islet engraftment, leading to insulin release and glycaemic control restoration in patients with diabetes. Allo-PIPIT, in which isolated and purified islets from cadaveric donor are used, does not require major surgery, and is potentially less expensive for the recipient. In case of long-term T1DM, islet-after-kidney (IAK) transplantation can simultaneously cure diabetes and chronic renal failure, while islet-transplant-alone (ITA) is performed in brittle, short-term T1DM, based on the infusion of an adequate islet mass and on a steroid-free immunosuppressive regimen according to the Edmonton protocol. Results of the Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry (CITR) demonstrate that allo-PIPIT reduces episodes of hypoglycemia and diabetic complications, and improves quality of life of diabetic patients. Auto-PIPIT, in which the own patient's islets are used, has been investigated as a preventive treatment for pancreatogenic diabetes in patients who undergo extensive pancreatectomy for malignant and non-malignant disease. This Review outlines the role of imaging and interventional radiology in allo- and auto-PIPIT.
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