Facial vascularized composite allotransplantation (fVCA) presents an established approach to restore form and function of patients with catastrophic facial defects. Skin is one of the target tissues of the rejection process, and due to its easy accessibility has become the gold standard in the diagnosis of rejection. Mucosal rejection frequently occurs; however, the added value of mucosal rejection assessment for patient management is unknown.
We conducted a systematic review of manuscripts listed in the MEDLINE/PubMed and GoogleScholar databases to identify articles that provide data on mucosal rejection following fVCA. For inclusion, papers had to be available as full-text and written in English. Non-VCA studies and animal studies were excluded. We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.
We included 17 articles that described changes in allotransplanted mucosa of fVCAs. These articles yielded data on 168 BANFF graded biopsies of corresponding skin and mucosa biopsies. Rejection grades were consistently higher in mucosal biopsies. Concordance between allograft skin and mucosa biopsy grades increased with an increasing skin-BANFF grade. Mucosa rejection grades were on average lower in the early stages of the posttransplant period (<postoperative mo 12, time of motor, and sensory recovery) when compared to the later stages (>postoperative mo 12).
The mucosa of facial allotransplants is one of the primary targets of rejection. The data indicates that higher-grade skin rejection does not occur in absence of mucosal rejection. Further investigations are needed to elucidate the exact role of mucosal biopsies for fVCA patient management.
Hypothermic ex-situ machine perfusion (MP) has been shown to be a promising alternative to static cold storage (SCS) for preservation of solid organs for transplantation and vascularized composite allotransplantation. Perfusion with blood-based perfusion solutions in austere environments is problematic due to their need for appropriate storage and short shelf life, making it impractical for military and emergency use. Acellular perfusion has been shown to be effective, but the ideal perfusate solution for MP of amputated limbs is yet to be determined. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of alternative perfusate solutions, such as dextran-enriched Phoxilium, Steen, and Phoxilium in ex-vivo hypothermic MP of amputated limbs in a porcine model.
Materials and methods
Amputated forelimbs from Yorkshire pigs (n = 8) were preserved either in SCS (n = 2) at 4°C for 12 hours or machine-perfused at 10°C for 12 hours with oxygenated perfusion solutions (n = 6) at a constant flow rate. The perfusates used include modified Steen-solution, Phoxilium (PHOX), or Phoxilium enriched with dextran-40 (PHODEX). The perfusate was exchanged after 1 and 6 hours of perfusion. Machine data were recorded continuously. Perfusate samples for clinical chemistry, blood gas analysis, and muscle biopsies were procured at specific timepoints and subsequently analyzed. In this semi in-vivo study, limb replantation has not been performed.
After amputation, every limb was successfully transferred and connected to our perfusion device. The mean total ischemia time was 77.5 ± 5.24 minutes. The temperature of the perfusion solution was maintained at 10.18 ± 2.01°C, and perfusion pressure at 24.48 ± 10.72 mmHg. Limb weight increased by 3% in the SCS group, 36% in the PHODEX group, 25% in the Steen group, and 58% in the PHOX group after 12 hours. This increase was significant in the PHOX group compared with the SCS group. All perfusion groups showed a pressure increase of 10.99 mmHg over time due to edema. The levels of HIF-1a decreased over time in all groups except the Steen and the PHODEX group. The biomarkers of muscle injury in the perfusate samples, such as creatine kinase and lactate-dehydrogenase, showed a significant difference between groups, with highest values in the PHODEX group. No significant differences were found in the results of the blood gas analysis.
With the exception of significantly higher levels of creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, MP with dextran-enriched Phoxilium provides similar results as that of the commercially available perfusates such as Steen, without the need for cold storage, and at circa 5% of the cost of the Steen solution. Further large-scale replantation studies are necessary to evaluate the efficacy of dextran-enriched Phoxilium as an alternate perfusate solution.
Original Clinical Science-General Background. Facial vascularized composite allotransplantation (fVCA) represents a reconstructive approach that enables superior improvements in functional and esthetic restoration compared with conventional craniomaxillofacial reconstruction. Outcome reports of fVCA are usually limited to short-term follow-up or single-center experiences. We merge scientific literature on reported long-term outcome data to better define the risks and benefits of fVCA. Methods. We conducted a systematic review of PubMed/MEDLINE databases in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. English full-text articles providing data on at least 1 unique fVCA patient, with ≥3 years follow-up, were included. Results. The search yielded 1812 articles, of which 28 were ultimately included. We retrieved data on 23 fVCA patients with mean follow-up of 5.3 years. More than half of the patients showed improved quality of life, eating, speech, and motor and sensory function following fVCA. On average, the patients had 1 acute cell-mediated rejection and infectious episode per year. The incidence rates of acute rejection and infectious complications were high within first-year posttransplant but declined thereafter. Sixty-five percent of the patients developed at least 1 neoplastic or metabolic complication after transplantation. Chronic vascular rejection was confirmed in 2 patients, leading to allograft loss after 8 and 9 years. Two patient deaths occurred 3.5 and 10.5 years after transplant due to suicide and lung cancer, respectively. Conclusions. Allograft functionality and improvements in quality of life suggest a positive risk-benefit ratio for fVCA. Recurrent acute rejection episodes, chronic rejection, immunosuppression-related complications, and heterogeneity in outcome reporting present ongoing challenges in this field.
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