Background: Vascularized composite allotransplantation has redefined the frontiers of plastic and reconstructive surgery. At the cutting edge of this evolving paradigm, the authors present the first successful combined full face and bilateral hand transplant.
Methods: A 21-year-old man presented for evaluation with sequelae of an 80 percent total body surface area burn injury sustained after a motor vehicle accident. The injury included full face and bilateral upper extremity composite tissue defects, resulting in reduced quality of life and loss of independence. Multidisciplinary evaluation confirmed eligibility for combined face and bilateral hand transplantation. The operative approach was validated through 11 cadaveric rehearsals utilizing computerized surgical planning. Institutional review board and organ procurement organization approvals were obtained. The recipient, his caregiver, and the donor family consented to the procedure.
Results: Combined full face (i.e., eyelids, ears, nose, lips, and skeletal subunits) and bilateral hand transplantation (i.e., forearm level) was performed over 23 hours on August 12 to 13, 2020. Triple induction and maintenance immunosuppressive therapy and infection prophylaxis were administered. Plasmapheresis was necessary postoperatively. Minor revisions were performed over seven subsequent operations, including five left upper extremity, seven right upper extremity, and seven facial secondary procedures. At 8 months, the patient was approaching functional independence and remained free of acute rejection. He had significantly improved range of motion, motor power, and sensation of the face and hand allografts.
Conclusions: Combined face and bilateral hand transplantation is feasible. This was the most comprehensive vascularized composite allotransplantation procedure successfully performed to date, marking a new milestone in plastic and reconstructive surgery for patients with otherwise irremediable injuries.
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