Hand/upper extremity transplantation is the most common form of vascularized composite allotransplantation performed to date. An Update of worldwide outcomes is reported.
The authors summarize the international experience with 107 known transplanted hand/upper extremities in 72 patients. Data from published medical literature, national and international meetings, lay press reports, and personal communications were utilized to provide the most up-to-date summary.
Although 24 losses (including four mortalities) are known, three of the four reported mortalities and eight of 24 limb losses were caused by multiple type vascularized composite allotransplantations (combined upper and lower limb or upper limb and face). Seven more losses were attributable to 15 patients in the early experience in China. In the United States and Western Europe, only three other non-acute graft losses have been reported, resulting in a patient survival rate for unilateral or bilateral hand transplantation in isolation of 98.5 percent and an overall graft survival rate of 83.1 percent.
Published functional outcomes continue to demonstrate improvement in function and quality of life. The international experience supports the idea that, for properly selected individuals, hand and upper extremity transplantation should be considered an important treatment option.