Background The indications for intestinal transplantation (ITx) are still debated. Knowing survival rates and causes of death on home parenteral nutrition (HPN) will improve decisions.
Methods A prospective 5-year study compared 389 non-candidates (no indication, no contraindication) and 156 candidates (indication, no contraindication) for ITx. Indications were: HPN failure (liver failure; multiple episodes of catheter-related venous thrombosis or sepsis; severe dehydration), high-risk underlying disease (intra-abdominal desmoids; congenital mucosal disorders; ultra-short bowel), high morbidity intestinal failure. Causes of death were defined as: HPN-related, underlying disease, or other cause.
Results The survival rate was 87% in non-candidates, 73% in candidates with HPN failure, 84% in those with high-risk underlying disease, 100% in those with high morbidity intestinal failure and 54%, in ITx recipients (one non-candidate and 21 candidates) (p<0.001). The primary cause of death on HPN was underlying disease-related in patients with HPN duration ≤2 years, and HPN-related in those on HPN duration >2 years (p=0.006). In candidates, the death HRs were increased in those with desmoids (7.1; 95% CI 2.5 to 20.5; p=0.003) or liver failure (3.4; 95% CI 1.6 to 7.3; p=0.002) compared to non-candidates. In deceased candidates, the indications for ITx were the causes of death in 92% of those with desmoids or liver failure, and in 38% of those with other indications (p=0.041). In candidates with catheter-related complications or ultra-short bowel, the survival rate was 83% in those who remained on HPN and 78% after ITx (p=0.767).
Conclusions HPN is confirmed as the primary treatment for intestinal failure. Desmoids and HPN-related liver failure constitute indications for life-saving ITx. Catheter-related complications and ultra-short bowel might be indications for pre-emptive/rehabilitative ITx. In the early years after commencing HPN a life-saving ITx could be required for some patients at higher risk of death from their underlying disease.
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Not required. The questionnaire used in this study was completed for each individual patient by the local medical team in anonymised form, codified for linkage with previous years' data. The research was thus based on information taken from that already present in the patient records at the time of the data collection. The study was conducted with full regard to confidentiality and protection of the individual patient.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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