Relapsing encephalopathy following small bowel transplantation

Transplant Proc. 2003 Jun;35(4):1565-6. doi: 10.1016/s0041-1345(03)00461-5.


We report a case of a 40-year-old man presenting with relapsing encephalopathy 4 years post-intestinal transplantation. Each episode was preceded by symptoms suggestive of subacute intestinal obstruction, marked dehydration, and, on one occasion, grade 4 encephalopathy. Physical examination revealed hypertonia, clonus, and hyperreflexia. Biochemistry was consistent with renal impairment, metabolic alkalosis, hyperammonaemia, and normal liver function. Plain radiographs and abdominal computed tomography revealed dilated proximal small bowel loops, and barium radiography demonstrated a strictured distal anastomosis. Hydrogen breath testing indicated bacterial overgrowth. Following rehydration and antibiotic therapy, the patient recovered fully between episodes. Further episodes of encephalopathy did not recur following resection of the distal anastomotic stricture and resolution of bacterial overgrowth. Unfortunately, one year later the patient died of pneumonia. To the best of our knowledge, encephalopathy secondary to intestinal transplant related porto-caval shunt and bacterial overgrowth in strictured bowel has not been previously reported but might have implications for the management of future patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Coma / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / transplantation*
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Time Factors
  • Transplantation, Homologous / adverse effects*