The abdominal wall transplant as a sentinel skin graft

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Abdominal wall transplantation is a technique used to achieve abdominal closure after intestinal and multivisceral transplantation. This review focuses on whether there are additional benefits for the skin component as an immune-monitoring tool.

Recent findings

The largest series of abdominal wall transplants has recently been published. Alongside the physiological advantage gained in abdominal closure, the authors describe the immunological insight that the skin component can provide and how this contributes to the management of patients. The skin appears to develop a rash with early rejection, which facilitates early systemic treatment before significant visceral rejection occurs. It can also help in cases in which there is diagnostic doubt regarding the cause of bowel dysfunction such as in instances of intestinal infection. Despite the additional immunological burden of donor tissue, there appears to be no requirement for increased immunosuppressive therapy.

Summary

The technical and immunological feasibility of abdominal wall transplantation has now been demonstrated by several centres. Skin transplanted as part of the abdominal wall or as a separate vascularized sentinel skin flap may aid in the diagnosis of rejection. This has the potential to improve graft survival and reduce immunosuppressive morbidity.

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