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Br J Anaesth. 2013 Oct;111(4):600-6. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet159. Epub 2013 May 23.

Anaesthesia and intensive care management of face transplantation.

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  • 1Université Paris-Est Créteil, Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, GHU Henri Mondor - Albert Chenevier, Service d'Anesthésie, Réanimation Chirurgicale, Créteil F-94010, France.


The face-grafting techniques are innovative and highly complex, requiring well-defined organization of all the teams involved. Subsequent to the first report in France in 2005, there have been 17 facial allograft transplantations performed worldwide. We describe anaesthesia and postoperative management, and the problems encountered, during the course of seven facial composite tissue grafts performed between 2007 and 2011 in our hospital. The reasons for transplantation were ballistic trauma in four patients, extensive neurofibromatosis in two patients, and severe burns in one patient. Anaesthesia for this long procedure involves advanced planning for airway management, vascular access, technique of anaesthesia, and fluid management. Preparation and grafting phases were highly haemorrhagic (>one blood volume), requiring massive transfusion. Median (range) volumes given for packed red cell (PRC) and fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) were 64.2 ml kg(-1) (35.5-227.5) and 46.2 ml kg(-1) (6.3-173.7), respectively. Blood loss quantification was difficult because of diffuse bleeding to the drapes. The management of patients with neurofibromatosis or burns involving the whole face was more difficult and haemorrhagic than the patients with lower face transplantation. Average surgical duration was 19.1 h (15-28 h). Postoperative severe graft oedema was present in most patients. Most patients encountered complications in ICU, such as renal insufficiency, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and jugular thrombosis. Opportunistic bacterial infections were a feature during the postoperative period in these highly immunosuppressed patients.


allograft; anaesthesia; face; intensive care; transplantation

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