Objective: Intestinal transplantation has become an option as a treatment for permanent intestinal failure. Endoscopy is an essential tool in assessing the intestinal allograft after intestinal transplantation. The aim of this study was to analyze our experience using endoscopy in intestinal transplant recipients.
Methods: This was a retrospective review of endoscopic and histological reports in 41 children who received an intestinal transplant between 1990 and 1995 at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Results: A total of 1273 endoscopies was performed of which 760 were ileoscopies via allograft ileostomy, 273 were upper endoscopies, and 240 were colonoscopies. One hundred four rejection episodes were documented histologically in 32 patients, 6 days to >4 yr after transplantation. Most episodes were mild and easily treated with increased immunosuppression; however, severe rejection with mucosal exfoliation was seen in nine patients. Rejection sometimes involved only part of the allograft. Endoscopic appearance alone without biopsies was sensitive enough to diagnose only 63% of the rejection episodes. Epstein-Barr and cytomegalovirus infections occurred in 11 and eight patients, respectively, and involved both native bowel and allograft in some. Complications of endoscopy were few: one perforation, three episodes of bleeding, and three episodes of transient respiratory compromise.
Conclusions: Endoscopy is an essential tool in the postoperative assessment of intestinal transplant recipients. Frequent surveillance ileoscopies with biopsies should be performed after transplantation. If patients clinically deteriorate with fever, diarrhea, bacteremia, or gastrointestinal bleeding and a clear cause is not elucidated by ileoscopy, an upper endoscopy with biopsies is indicated.