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Authors Gander B, Brown CS, Vasilic D, Furr A, Banis JC, Cunningham M, Wiggins O, Maldonado C, Whitaker I, Perez-Abadia G, Frank JM, Barker JH
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Journal Transpl. Int. Volume: 19 Issue: 11 Pages: 868-80
Publish Date 2006 Nov
PubMed ID 17018121
Abstract

Each year an estimated 7-million people in the USA need composite tissue reconstruction because of surgical excision of tumors, accidents and congenital malformations. Limb amputees alone comprise over 1.2 million of these. This figure is more than double the number of solid organs needed for transplantation. Composite tissue allotransplantation in the form of hand and facial tissue transplantation are now a clinical reality. The discovery, in the late 1990s, that the same immunotherapy used routinely in kidney transplantation was also effective in preventing skin rejection made this possible. While these new treatments seem like major advancements most of the surgical, immunological and ethical methods used are not new at all and have been around and routinely used in clinical practice for some time. In this review of composite tissue allotransplantation, we: (i) outline the limitations of conventional reconstructive methods for treating severe facial disfigurement, (ii) review the history of composite tissue allotransplantation, (iii) discuss the chronological scientific advances that have made it possible, (iv) focus on the two unique clinical scenarios of hand and face transplantation, and (v) reflect on the critical issues that must be addressed as we move this new frontier toward becoming a treatment in mainstream medicine.

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