Is intestinal transplantation the future of children with definitive intestinal insufficiency?

Frederique Sauvat, F. Fusaro, F. Lacaille, L. Dupic, N. Bourdaud, V. Colomb, J. P. Hugot, Y. Aigrain, O. Goulet, Y. Revillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intestinal transplantation (IT) is the newest and most difficult of organ transplantations. The first ever (1987) and the longest surviving (1989) IT were performed in our institution. However, IT still has to demonstrate its benefit to children on long-term parenteral nutrition (PN). We tried to clarify this aspect by looking back at our 13 years' experience. Patients: From 1994 to December 2007, 74 IT were performed in 69 children, 39 with an isolated small bowel (IT), 35 combined with a liver transplant (LITx). The indications were: short bowel syndrome (n = 25), congenital mucosal diseases (n = 22), and motility disorders (n = 22). Median age at transplantation was 5 years (1-17 years). Follow-up was 1 to 12 years (median 5 years). Results: Thirty-one children have a functioning graft (42%), 15/39 IT, 16/35 LITx. They are at home without PN, with a good quality of life. One child is PN-dependent 1.5 years post IT. Post IT, 16 children were detransplanted: 12 early on (1 for mechanical complications, 11 because of resistant rejection; 3 less than 3 years, one 9 years post SBT (chronic rejection). In 2 noncompliant teenagers, PN was reintroduced (one was detransplanted later on). Several years post LITx, 2 children underwent bowel detransplantation due to an acute viral infection complicated with rejection. Twenty-two children died (32%, 8 IT, 14 LITx), 18 early on from infectious or surgical complications, 4 more than 1 year post IT, 3 after retransplantation (1 in another unit). Bad prognostic factors are multiple previous surgeries, an older age (> 7 y), and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Discussion: Complications post IT are frequent and life-threatening, especially early on: rejection (IT), infections (LITx). Later on, the rate of complications decreases but remains significant, especially in noncompliant patients. However we describe here a 13-year learning curve; the recent results are encouraging with regard to control of rejection and vital infections. Conclusion: Intestinal transplantation is indicated only in selected patients in whom long-term PN cannot be performed safely any more. In every child with intestinal insufficiency, the therapeutic strategy must be discussed early on in order to perform IT at the right time under optimal conditions. IT should evolve from being a "rescue" procedure to becoming a true therapeutic option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-371
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Intestinal failure
  • Intestinal transplantation
  • Liver disease
  • Short bowel syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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