Background: Quality of life is an important consideration in evaluating new medical or surgical treatments. Intestinal transplantation is now available for patients with irreversible intestinal failure. We compared quality of life among patients with intestinal failure receiving home parenteral nutrition (HPN) to that among patients who underwent intestinal transplantation (ITx) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Methods: The results of the Quality of Life Inventory, a self-administered questionnaire, were compared among 10 ITx recipients and 10 HPN patients. Change in quality of life was examined longitudinally over a 2-year period with repeat testing in four patients in each group.
Results: ITx recipients were evaluated at mean time of 2.7 years after transplantation and after a mean period of 5.3 years of intestinal failure. HPN patients were evaluated after a mean period of 5.1 years of intestinal failure and were similar to the transplant recipients in age, gender, race, social status, education, etiology, and duration of disease. Assessed quality of life was markedly similar between HPN-dependent patients and ITx recipients, with significant differences in only 2 of 25 domains, despite the difficult early postoperative course and complex management that accompany intestinal transplantation. In longitudinal follow-up (n=4), ITx recipients reported significant improvement in anxiety (P=0.02), sleep (P=0.03), and impulsiveness/control (P<0.001), reflecting a progressive adjustment to their posttransplant status.
Conclusion: The quality of life in ITx recipients is similar to that in HPN-dependent patients. Quality of life among ITx recipients improves over time with decreased anxiety over physical functioning. Further research and efforts to improve quality of life in transplant recipients are needed.