Demographic of short gut syndrome: Increasing demand is not followed by referral of potential candidates for small bowel transplantation
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Background. Despite improvements in small bowel transplantation (SBTx), early referral of patients with irreversible intestinal failure (IF) remains a major obstacle. In this study we evaluated the demand for SBTx among seven surgical pediatric centers located at least 200 km from our center.Methods. From 1997 to 2001, 640 patients have been treated for neonatal diseases, including 248 who underwent a minor or major intestinal resection. Twenty-four patients with major resections presented with short gut syndrome, requiring total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The greatest demand was in postsurgical neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis, gastroschiesis, onphalocoeles, or midgut volvulus, and in three adults with postradiotherapy arteritis (n = 2) and mesenteric vein thromboses (n = 1). The median length of residual bowel after resection was 20 to 30 cm, without an ileocecal valve. Four patients were referred for SBTx evaluation; three died while awaiting a donor; 20 were not referred, among whom 14 died of TPN complications.Results. Approximately 62 children per year require nutritional support for IF, most of whom develop complications related to TPN. Because many patients who are TPN-dependent develop complications, we believe that early referral would reduce mortality.Conclusions. Greater medical awareness about the feasibility of SBTx procedures and earlier referral may improve results and quality of life after transplant.