Intestinal transplantation: a review

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Purpose of review

The purpose of this article is to review the existing literature on the current indications, surgical techniques, immunosuppressive therapy and outcomes following intestinal transplantation (ITx).

Recent findings

Over recent years, ITx has become a more common operation with approximately 2500 procedures carried out worldwide by 2014. It is reserved for patients with intestinal failure and who have developed complications of home parenteral nutrition or who have a high risk of dying from their underlying disease. Recent advances such as the improvement in survival rates, not only for isolated small bowel transplants but also following inclusion of a liver graft in combined liver-small bowel transplant, and the utility of citrulline as a noninvasive biomarker to appreciate acute rejection herald an exciting shift in the field of ITx.


With advancements in immunosuppressive drugs, induction regimens, standardization of surgical techniques and improved postoperative care, survival is increasing. In due course, it will most likely become as good as remaining on home parenteral nutrition and as such could become a viable first-line option.

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