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A Systematic Review of the Reported Complications Related to Facial and Upper Extremity Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation

Published:September 23, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2022.08.023

      Abstract

      Introduction

      Twenty three years after the first successful upper extremity transplantation, the role of vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) in the world of transplantation remains controversial. Face and upper extremity reconstruction via transplantation have become successful options for highly selected patients with severe tissue and functional deficit when conventional reconstructive options are no longer available. Despite clear benefit in these situations, VCA has a significant potential for complications that are more frequent when compared to visceral organ transplantation. This study intended to perform an updated systematic review on such complications.

      Materials and methods

      MEDLINE database via PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library were searched. Face and upper extremity VCA performed between 1998 and 2021 were included in the study. Relevant media and press conferences reports were also included. Complications related to face and upper extremity VCA were recorded and reviewed including their clinical characteristics and complications.

      Results

      One hundred fifteen patients underwent facial (43%) or upper extremity (57%) transplantation. Overall, the surgical complication rate was 23%. Acute and chronic rejection was identified in 89% and 11% of patients, respectively. Fifty eight percent of patients experienced opportunistic infection. Impaired glucose metabolism was the most common immunosuppression-related complication other than infection. Nineteen percent of patients ultimately experienced partial or complete allograft loss.

      Conclusions

      Complications related to VCA are a significant source of morbidity and potential mortality. Incidence of such complications is higher than previously reported and should be strongly emphasized in patient consent process. Strict patient selection criteria, complex preoperative evaluation, consideration of alternatives, and thorough disclosure to patients should be routinely performed prior to VCA indication.

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