Objective: To review the first clinical cases of composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) for reconstructive surgery and to discuss the outcome of and indications for these procedures in the context of chronic immunosuppression. Summary Background Data: The first human hand transplant was performed in 1998. This procedure, as well as other composite tissue transplants, offers the potential for correcting untreatable large tissue defects. However, concerns remain regarding obligatory chronic immunosuppression and long-term functional results. Methods: All the CTAs performed in humans that have been published or documented were reviewed. The preexisting clinical conditions and surgical procedures and the immunosuppressive therapy are described. The functional results and the complications or side effects of the treatment are detailed. Results: Vascularized tendons (two cases), vascularized femoral diaphyses (three cases), knees (five cases), hands (four bilateral and seven unilateral cases), larynx (one case), and nonvascularized peripheral nerves (seven cases) have been transplanted in humans in the past decade. Rejection was prevented in most cases without difficulty. Early results are encouraging, particularly for hand and larynx transplants, but will need to be evaluated in the long term and in a larger number of patients. Conclusions: CTA holds great potential for reconstructive surgery but is at present restricted by the risks of chronic immunosuppression and uncertain long-term results.
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