Intestinal transplant is a relatively new surgery for people whose
intestines are failing. In some cases of severe
Crohn's disease or other illnesses, most of the
small intestine may be removed. Some people have so much of their small
intestine removed that their bodies no longer can absorb nutrients (short bowel
syndrome). People with no functioning small intestine must receive nutrition
through intravenous (IV) feeding, which is called total parenteral nutrition
(TPN). TPN treatment can have life-threatening complications, including
infection and liver failure.
During an intestinal transplant, a surgeon transplants the small intestine of a cadaver into a person
with Crohn's disease. In some cases, the liver or other digestive organs may be
transplanted at the same time.
An intestinal transplant is an extremely difficult procedure that is
done in only a few medical centers. A small percentage of people with Crohn's
disease are considered for this surgery. Intestinal transplants carry a high
risk of death during surgery and of complications, including
rejection of the new organs. People who have organ
transplants must take medicines that prevent their body from rejecting the
organ. Those medicines increase the risk of infections.
For more information about intestinal transplant, see the topic Organ Transplant.
October 8, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
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