Anesthesia for Hand or Face Transplants—Initial Guidelines
Source Newsroom: International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS)
Groups Share Recommendations for Anesthetic Management during 'Composite' Transplantations
Newswise — San Francisco, CA. (August 30, 2012) – Hand and facial transplants are still rare, but experience so far has produced some suggested guidelines for anesthetic management in patients undergoing these complex "composite" transplant procedures, according to a pair of articles in the September issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).
The University of Pittsburgh hand transplant group shares their guidelines for anesthesia management, emphasizing the range of important roles played by anesthesiologists throughout the perioperative period—before, during, and after surgery. A separate paper identifies key issues in the management of facial transplant recipients, based on worldwide experience.
First Guidelines for Anesthesia during Hand Transplantation
Dr R. Scott Lang and the Pitt group present the "Pittsburgh Upper Extremity Transplant Anesthesiology Protocol" (PUETAP)—the first guidelines for anesthetic management of upper extremity transplantation. The recommendations were derived from the authors' experience with eight hand/forearm/arm transplants in five patients, performed from 2008 to 2010.
Like face transplantation, hand transplants are classified as "vascularized composite tissue allotransplants" (CTAs). In contrast to organ transplants, CTAs "are composed of multiple tissues, including skin, muscle, tendons, vessels, nerves, lymph nodes, bone, and bone marrow," the authors explain. These are obviously complex procedures in which anesthesiologists play multiple, critical roles—not only providing anesthesia and monitoring the patient during the prolonged surgery, but also playing active roles in patient evaluation and follow-up.
The PUETAP proposes a set of recommendations to help guide anesthetic management of patients undergoing hand transplantation. It includes detailed information on management of the patient during surgery, such as:
• Fluid management, including monitoring catheters and likely requirements for transfused blood products
• Intraoperative monitoring, including regular lab tests performed throughout the operation.
• Anesthesia, including regional anesthesia strategies to block the nerves supplying the shoulder, arm, and hand (brachial plexus).
The article includes two cases illustrating how experience informed development of the PUETAP, and its subsequent effects on anesthetic management. "The success of the PUETAP required the anesthesiologists to become true perioperative physicians," Dr Lang and coauthors write. They emphasize the need to meet with the patient before surgery to explain anesthesia plans, and after surgery to evaluate immediate and long-term pain management.
Follow-up also includes monitoring for immune system function and possible rejection of the transplanted tissues. The Pitt team used cutting-edge immunomodulatory approaches, including infusion of bone marrow from the tissue donor in an attempt to induce long-term immune tolerance of the transplanted tissue. The authors plan a complete review of the "immunologic, functional, and graft survival outcomes" of their hand transplant patients.
In the second article, led by Dr Thomas Edrich of Brigham and Women's Hospital, the researchers surveyed facial transplantation centers worldwide regarding their perioperative management. Data on 13 face transplants reported a median 19 hours of surgery and anesthesia. Blood loss was "considerable," requiring large amounts of fluids and blood transfusions. The results findings emphasize the importance of preparing for and managing—which can occur rapidly once blood flow is restored to the transplanted facial tissues.
"Though most anesthesiologists will not be responsible for CTA patients, the advanced that facilitated transplantation of upper and lower extremities and faces will affect all of organ transplantation," according to an accompanying editorial by Dr Marie Csete of University of California, San Diego. Pointing out the "surprising territorial overlap" between research in anesthesiology and immunology, she believes anesthesiologists have an important role to play "at this pivotal time in the history of transplantation."
About the IARS
The International Anesthesia Research Society is a nonpolitical, not-for-profit medical society founded in 1922 to advance and support scientific research and education related to anesthesia, and to improve patient care through basic research. The IARS contributes nearly $1 million annually to fund anesthesia research; provides a forum for anesthesiology leaders to share information and ideas; maintains a worldwide membership of more than 15,000 physicians, physician residents, and others with doctoral degrees, as well as health professionals in anesthesia related practice; sponsors the
SmartTots initiative in partnership with the FDA; and publishes the monthly journal
Anesthesia & Analgesia in print and online.
About Anesthesia & Analgesia
Anesthesia & Analgesia was founded in 1922 and was issued bi-monthly until 1980, when it became a monthly publication. A&A is the leading journal for anesthesia clinicians and researchers and includes more than 500 articles annually in all areas related to anesthesia and analgesia, such as cardiovascular anesthesiology, patient safety, anesthetic pharmacology, and pain management. The journal is published on behalf of the IARS by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (
LWW), a division of
Wolters Kluwer Health.