Twenty-five consecutive isolated intestinal transplants in adult patients: a five-yr clinical experience

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Patients and MethodsBetween December 2000 and December 2005, 25 isolated intestinal transplants from cadaveric donors have been performed for short gut syndrome (short bowel syndrome, 52%), chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (24%), Gardner syndrome (16%), radiation enteritis (4%) and massive intestinal angiomatosis (4%). Indications for transplantation were: loss of venous access, recurrent sepsis due to central line infection, major electrolyte and fluid imbalance. Liver dysfunction was present in 13 cases. All patients were adult; median age was 36.3 yr and mean weight at transplantation 61.6 kg. All recipients were on life-threatening parenteral nutrition for a mean time of 23.7 months. Mean donor/recipient body weight ratio was 1.08. Rejection monitoring was accomplished by graft ileoendoscopies and intestinal biopsies through the temporary ileostomy. Our immunosuppressive regimen was based on induction therapy with three different protocols: daclizumab for induction, tacrolimus and steroids as maintenance therapy; alemtuzumab for induction and low-dose tacrolimus as maintenance; thymoglobulin™ for induction and maintenance based on low-dose tacrolimus. Closure of the abdomen at the end of transplantation represented a technical problem with several options performed: graft reduction, only skin closure, prothesic meshes, abdominal closure in two steps, cutaneous flaps and abdominal wall transplant in one case.ResultsThe mean hospital stay was 37 days. The mean follow-up 27 months. Twenty patients are alive (80%) with two- and five-yr patient survival rate of 80% and 66%; mortality rate was 20% due to sepsis in all cases. Our two- and five-yr graft survival rate is 76% and 64%, graftectomy rate was 16%. Sixteen grafts are working properly, with no need of parenteral nutrition. We diagnosed 35 mild acute cellular rejection (ACRs), seven moderate ACRs and three severe ACRs (two needed graftectomy). We experienced two episodes of chronic rejection biopsy-proven. Rapamicine™ was added in case of renal failure or biopsy-proven intestinal rejection. Graft-vs.-host disease was not seen in our series while post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease in two cases. After discharge, the most common indication for medical support was dehydration. The abdominal wall transplant did not experience any rejection.Discussion and ConclusionsInduction therapy has reduced the amount of postoperative immunosuppressive agents, especially in the first period, lowering the risk of renal failure and sepsis and the mucosal surveillance protocol for early detection of rejection dramatically reduced the number of severe ACR.

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