Intestinal transplant

Dr Zishan Sheikh et al.

Intestinal transplantation is a surgical treatment for intestinal failure. It is one of the most rarely performed transplant procedures performed, exclusively involving the transplantation of donor small bowel to a recipient, with an ileostomy formation. 

Due to the high risk of complications with the procedure, it is usually reserved for patients with intestinal failure who are unable to be sustained on total parental nutrition (TPN) due to complications of TPN treatment 1,2

With continued improvements in donor selection, organ preservation and operative techniques recent studies report improvements in outcomes from intestinal transplants to be comparable with that from lung transplantation 7.

There are essentially two main patient groups that are candidates for small bowel transplantation:

  • short bowel syndrome
    • commonly due to previous surgical bowel resection
  • functional disorders
    • impaired motility
    • impaired absorption despite sufficient gut length 
  • untreated systemic or local infections
  • severe cardiac or pulmonary failure
  • malignancy (relative contraindication) 2

Both live donor and cadaveric operations are performed depending on whether intestinal transplant is being performed in isolation or combination with other visceral transplants.

  • between 150-200 cm of ileum including 20-25 cm of ileocaecal valve/terminal ileum harvested from a donor
  • end-to-side anastomosis of donor ileocolic artery and vein to recipient aorta and inferior vena cava (IVC) respectively
  • proximal anastomosis of donor ileum and recipient bowel or stomach
  • Bishop-Koop ileostomy formation
  • the intestinal graft can either have venous drainage via the IVC or via portal system (superior mesenteric vein)
  • arterial anastomosis to abdominal aorta, usually infra-renal
  • intestinal anastomosis as for live donor 
  • concomitant liver failure related to TPN
  • hypercoagulable states causing intestinal failure that are correctable with liver transplantation
  • arterial anastomosis between a patch of donor aorta including the coeliac axis and SMA origin to recipient aorta
  • donor-recipient porto-portal venous anastomosis
  • cavo-caval venous anastomosis
  • Roux-Y-choledocho-enterostomy for biliary drainage
  • used in patients with invasive abdominal malignancies requiring multi-organ curative surgical resection 
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Article information

rID: 49838
Section: Gamuts
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • bowel transplant
  • intestinal transplantation
  • bowel transplantation

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