The International Registry on Hand and Composite Tissue Transplantation

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Background. Since May 2002 all groups performing hand transplantations have supplied detailed information to the International Registry on Hand and Composite Tissue Transplantation. This inaugural report provides a review of all hand transplants performed to date. Methods. Between September 1998 and September 2004, 18 male patients underwent 24 hand/forearm/digit transplantations (11 monolateral and 4 bilateral hand transplantations, 2 bilateral forearm transplantations, and 1 thumb transplantation). The level of amputation was mostly at the distal forearm or wrist. The average age of the patient was 32 years. Time since hand loss ranged from 2 months to 22 years. Immunosuppressive therapy included tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, rapamycin, and steroids; polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies were used for induction. Topical immunosuppression was administered in some patients. Follow-up period ranged from 17 to 70 months. Results. Patient survival was 100%. Graft survival was 100% at 1 and 2 years. Two cases of graft failure at a later date were caused by severe inflammation and progressive rejection in a noncompliant patient. Acute rejection episodes occurred in 12 patients within the first year. Rejection was reversible in all compliant patients. Side effects included opportunistic infections and metabolic complications. No life-threatening complications or malignancies were reported. All patients had achieved protective sensation, and 17 patients also achieved discriminative sensation. Extrinsic and intrinsic muscle recovery enabled patients to perform most daily activities. Conclusions. Despite the enormous antigen load associated with composite tissue allograft, hand transplantation became a clinical reality with immunosuppression comparable to transplantation of solid organs.


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Lanzetta, M., Petruzzo, P., Margreiter, R., Dubernard, J. M., Schuind, F., Breidenbach, W. C., ... Zhang, X. (2005). The International Registry on Hand and Composite Tissue Transplantation. Transplantation, 79(9), 1210-1214.