Current Risk Estimates for Face Transplant Inaccurate

Authors present new estimates based on updated regimens used for this procedure

FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Previous estimates of the immunologic risks of facial transplantation, which have influenced a number of major organizations' positions on the procedure, are based on factors deemed irrelevant to facial transplantation, researchers report in the Sept. 1 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Dalibor Vasilic, M.D., of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues estimated a variety of risks of face transplantation based on kidney and hand transplantation studies that used tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and corticosteroids to prevent rejection. The previous influential risk estimates, according to the authors, are "inaccurate and therefore misleading" since they are based on other immunosuppressive regimens, as well as the fact that the health status of solid-organ recipients in previous studies was different than face transplant recipients, and also the fact that relevant qualities of the solid organs in previous studies differ from those of facial tissues.

The authors estimate that the true risk of acute rejection ranges from 10 to 70 percent incidence, that acute rejection reversibility is approximately 100 percent and chronic rejection over five years is less than 10 percent.

The data supporting this article "present a comprehensive knowledge base for estimating immunosuppression-associated risks and thus provide a solid foundation for patients, physicians, institutional review boards, and professional and lay communities to discuss and make risk-versus-benefit decisions regarding facial transplantation," the authors write.

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