Background: Closure of the abdomen in patients undergoing intestinal transplantation can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. We describe our initial experience with abdominal wall allotransplantation to facilitate abdominal closure. Methods: We undertook nine cadaveric abdominal wall composite allograft transplants in eight patients. The graft's blood supply was based on the inferior epigastric vessels left in continuity with the donor femoral and iliac vessels. Skin biopsies were undertaken randomly and when rejection was suspected. Vessel patency was monitored by doppler ultrasound. Findings: Six patients have survived, five of whom have intact, viable abdominal wall grafts. Two patients have had a clinically mild episode of acute rejection of the skin of the abdominal wall that resolved with corticosteroid therapy. No clinically apparent graft-versus-host disease has been noted. Interpretation: Transplantation of an abdominal wall composite allograft can facilitate reconstruction and closure of the abdominal compartment in intestinal transplant recipients with complex abdominal wall defects.
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