Quality of Life after Face Transplantation: Outcomes, Assessment Tools, and Future Directions

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Background:Face transplantation has emerged as a clinical reality for the restoration of complex facial defects. Critical to the advancement of the burgeoning field of reconstructive transplantation is the quality of the methods used to measure and report the impact of face transplantation on quality of life.Methods:A systematic search using PubMed and EMBASE was conducted for all studies matching the a priori inclusion criteria from 2005 through 2015. Bibliographies of included studies were also reviewed. Two authors (M.A.A and H.K) independently performed screening of titles.Results:The authors identified 17 articles reporting on quality-of-life outcomes among 14 face transplant recipients. Combinations of objective and subjective measures were used to assess quality of life. Instruments used to assess quality of life after face transplantation included over 25 different instruments. Four centers, comprising eight patients, have reported using prospective, systematic data with validated instruments. Overall, there is reported improvement in quality of life after face transplantation. Heterogeneity and a paucity of data between articles preclude a quantitative analysis.Conclusions:Anecdotal and subjective reports of improvements in quality of life after face transplantation constitute the majority of reported outcomes in the English peer-reviewed literature. Improved efforts in methods and standardization of collection and reporting of quality-of-life data after face transplantation are needed to better appreciate the impact of face transplantation on quality of life and justify lifelong immunosuppression and its attendant risks and morbidity.

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