Intestine transplantation : Detailed explanation

What Is Intestine Transplantation?

Intestine transplantation (intestinal transplantation, or small bowel transplantation) is the surgical alternative of the small gut for continual and acute instances of intestinal failure. While intestinal failure can usually be handled with opportunity healing procedures consisting of parenteral vitamins (PN), headaches together with PN-associated liver ailment and brief bowel syndrome may also make transplantation the best feasible choice. One of the rarest sorts of organ transplantation performed, intestine transplantation is becoming increasingly everyday as a healing choice because of upgrades in immunosuppressive regimens, surgical technique, PN, and the scientific management of pre and publish-transplant sufferers.

Intestine transplantation can be done in isolation, with liver transplant, or as part of a multivisceral transplant inclusive of any combination of liver, stomach, pancreas, and/or colon. There are excellent differences in affected person and transplant outcomes for gut transplants with and without liver.

Medical Term

Intestine transplantation is a surgical procedure in which a person's diseased or damaged intestines are replaced with healthy intestines from a donor. This procedure is typically considered when other medical interventions have failed and the patient's digestive system is unable to function properly. The intestines are responsible for absorbing nutrients from digested food, so when they are compromised due to conditions like intestinal failure, transplantation might be considered as a last resort.

Intestine transplantation can be a complex and challenging procedure due to several factors:

  • Immunosuppression: Since the transplanted intestine comes from a donor, the recipient's immune system may recognize it as foreign and try to reject it. Therefore, the recipient needs to take immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection. These medications suppress the immune response, but they also increase the risk of infections and other complications.

  • Surgical Complexity: The intestine is a vital and intricately structured organ. Transplant surgery involves not only connecting the blood vessels and intestine, but also ensuring proper functioning of the numerous nerves that control digestive processes.

  • Post-Transplant Care: Intestine transplant recipients require intensive post-operative care to manage complications, monitor for rejection, and adjust medications to maintain the delicate balance between immune suppression and preventing infections.

  • Donor Availability: Finding a suitable donor is crucial, and the availability of suitable donor intestines can be limited.

Intestine transplantation is generally considered for individuals with severe intestinal failure caused by conditions such as Crohn's disease, necrotizing enterocolitis, volvulus, or other disorders that result in irreversible damage to the intestines. The procedure is reserved for patients who cannot be managed with alternative treatments like total parenteral nutrition (providing nutrients intravenously) or who have experienced significant complications from these treatments.

It's important to note that while intestine transplantation can offer hope for patients with no other viable options, it is associated with significant risks and challenges. The success rate and long-term outcomes of intestine transplantation have improved over the years due to advancements in surgical techniques, immunosuppressive medications, and post-operative care, but it still remains a complex procedure with potential complications.

How does an intestine transplant work?

What Happens During Intestinal Transplant Surgery? Small Bowel Transplant: Surgeons remove a part of the diseased small gut and replace it with a healthy one. Combined Liver and Intestine Transplant: Surgeons take away the diseased liver and intestine and replace them with healthful organs.

Why do people get intestine transplants?

Intestinal transplant (small bowel transplant) is a lifesaving treatment for short bowel syndrome and intestinal failure. It facilitates folks who might also no longer be capable of acquiring total parenteral nutrients (TPN) — liquid vitamins given intravenously.

How long can you live after intestine transplant?

Statistics from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) show that one year after transplantation 83 percent of intestinal transplant sufferers are nevertheless alive and 70 percent are still alive at 3 years. Approximately 80 percent of those transplant recipients emerge as unfastened from parenteral nutrition.

How successful is intestinal transplant?

One-year survival fees for sufferers after intestinal transplant are more than eighty five percent, that's comparable to liver transplant sufferers.

Types of Intestine transplantation

Depending on the condition, there are numerous styles of transplantation surgeries to update the organs of the GI tract:

  • Isolated Intestinal Transplantation (Small Bowel Transplant): A remote intestinal transplant involves casting off the diseased part of the small gut and replacing it with a healthy small intestine from a donor. This sort of transplant is taken into consideration for patients with complications because of intestinal failure, but who no longer have liver failure.

  • Multivisceral Transplantation: This may be taken into consideration for patients who've multiple organ failure, including belly, pancreas, liver, small gut and/or kidney failure. This kind of transplant involves putting off the diseased organs and replacing them with healthful organs from a donor.

  • Modified Multivisceral Transplantation: This could be taken into consideration for patients who do not now have liver disease/failure, however have organ failure of the stomach, pancreas, small intestine and/or kidneys. This form of transplant involves retaining your very own liver, and getting rid of the closing diseased organs and changing them with wholesome organs from a donor.

The team supervising the surgery

They include:

Implantation conditions

A quantity of different conditions could make intestinal or multivisceral transplantation vital. The following are a number of the most commonplace:

  • Blocked or obstructed intestines (atresia)

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Desmoid tumor with intra-abdominal infiltration

  • End stage liver disease (cirrhosis)

  • Endocrine tumors

  • Gardner's syndrome

  • Gastroschisis

  • Hirschsprung's disease

  • Infiltrative diseases leading to intestinal failure (sarcoidosis or amyloidosis)

  • Megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis syndrome (MMIHS)

  • Mesenteric venous thrombosis or arterial thrombosis

  • Microvillus inclusion disease

  • Multiple resections and explorations

  • Necrotizing enterocolitis

  • Severe cholestasis induced by total parenteral nutrition (TPN-IC)

  • Short bowel syndrome

  • Vascular abdominal trauma

  • Volvulus 

Risks Intestine transplantation

As with all types of surgical procedure, there are dangers associated with having a small bowel transplant.

Better anti-rejection drugs, delicate surgical strategies and a greater understanding of the body's immune machine have expanded the quantity of a hit bowel transplants and progressed survival rates in recent years.

Intestinal and multivisceral transplantation are extraordinarily complex operations, which means that they arrive with substantial dangers. The most commonplace headaches consist of postoperative hemorrhage, vascular leaks or obstruction, and biliary leaks or obstruction. 

The following are a few other dangers related to intestinal and multivisceral transplantations:

  • Bile leaks

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Donated organ failure or rejection

  • Increased risk of skin and certain other cancers

  • Infection

  • Internal bleeding

  • Intestinal leaks

  • Vascular complications


After the operation, the ileostomy lets in digestive waste to bypass out of your body through the stoma into an outside pouch. It also lets the transplant team examine the fitness of your transplanted bowel.

Depending on your fitness and the operation's success, your bowel may be reconnected and the ileostomy closed a few months after the transplant, however this isn't constantly feasible.

Intestinal and multivisceral transplantation can be a lifestyles-saving system. However, as complex operations, sufferers may additionally experience a variety of outcomes and recovery instances relying on the organs transplanted, the severity of their conditions, and their standard health. All patients will also possibly must take some form of drugs for the rest of their lives.

Prepare for transplant

Typically, patients remain hospitalized for several weeks after surgery. During this time, their transplant team will evaluate them for any signs of possible complications and assist with the recovery process, such as by providing proper nutrition and exercise routines. Afterwards, they can return home to recuperate. This process can take several months to over a year.


Rejection is an everyday reaction of the body. When a new organ is transplanted, your frame's immune device sees it as a risk and makes antibodies, which can forestall the organ working well.

Immunosuppressant medicines that weaken your immune gadget are given at some stage in and after your transplant and ought to be taken for existence to lessen the threat of your frame rejecting the donor bowel.

As well as preventing the donated organ from operating nicely, rejection can occasionally suggest that bacteria located in the small bowel can get into your bloodstream and cause critical contamination. 

You'll be intently monitored through the transplant team after surgery to reduce this threat.

There's some other rare kind of rejection in which the immune cells transplanted with the new organ fight against the cells of the host.

This is known as graft as opposed to host ailment (GvHD). GvHD can take place inside some weeks of a transplant or, much less generally, some months or maybe years later.

In a few cases wherein the transplant fails, you will be placed on the ready list once more for some other transplant.

post surgery

The instantaneous postoperative care is delivered - as after other extrarenal intraabdominal transplants - in an in depth care setting. After anastomotic leaks were dominated out on postoperative day 7 (radiographic contrast studies), enteral vitamins (thru feeding tube, gastrostomy, or jejunostomy) is initiated. The enteral tube feedings need to have low osmolarity (to save you hyperosmolar diarrhea) and must comprise medium-chain triglycerides (which can be absorbed even in the [initial] absence of lymphatic drainage), easily absorbed small peptides, in addition to glutamine (for enterocyte stimulation). A shortened intestinal transit time isn't infrequent after intestinal transplantation and can be handled pharmacologically (e.G., with loperamide or pectin). An oral weight-reduction plan is initiated once enteral feedings were administered successfully for as a minimum seven days.

Routinely, antibacterial prophylaxis is given for the first 7 days post transplant, antifungal prophylaxis (e.G., fluconazole) for 2 weeks, and antiviral prophylaxis (e.G., ganciclovir, acyclovir) for as much as 365 days.

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