First Lower Two-Thirds Osteomyocutaneous Facial Allograft Perfused by a Unilateral Facial Artery: Outcomes and Vascularization at 1 Year after Transplantation

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Abstract

Background:

Facial allotransplantation provides a unique opportunity to restore facial form and function in severely disfigured patients. Using a single unilateral facial artery for vascularization can significantly reduce surgical duration and thus facilitate the practice of face transplantation.

Methods:

A 33-year-old man with a history of high-energy ballistic trauma received a facial allograft comprising the lower two-thirds of the face, including maxilla and mandible. Vascular anastomoses involved one unilateral facial artery and two veins. Vascularization patterns, airway volume, and facial functions were assessed before and 1 year after transplantation. In addition, immunosuppressive therapy and rejection episodes were recorded.

Results:

One year after transplantation, the facial allograft is well perfused and gradually improving in function. Unilateral facial artery anastomosis remains patent and collateralization with the contralateral side is taking place through collaterals of the submental arteries. Bony perfusion of the maxilla and mandible is provided periosteally. Bilateral venous outflow is evident. Airway volume is significantly increased compared with before transplantation, and gastrostomy and tracheostomy tubes have been securely removed. The recipient has gained the abilities to smell, speak, feel, and grimace 1 year after transplantation. Steroids were successfully weaned after 9 months, leaving the patient on dual immunosuppressive therapy with tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil. Two rejection episodes occurred, of which one was treated by steroid pulse and the other by adjusting the maintenance therapy.

Conclusions:

In this patient, a facial allograft comprising the lower two-thirds of the face including the maxilla and mandible is sufficiently perfused by one unilateral facial artery. Bilateral venous outflow, however, seems to be necessary. Facial allotransplantation can significantly and securely improve facial form and function.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, V.

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