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Am J Surg Pathol. 2004 May;28(5):670-5.

The Pathology of full-thickness cadaver skin transplant for large abdominal defects: a proposed grading system for skin allograft acute rejection.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Miami School of Medicine/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Closure of large abdominal defects after extensive abdominal surgery is a major technical surgical problem. Failure to close the abdomen leaves the patient at risk for grave complications. Full-thickness abdominal wall skin transplantation appears to solve this problem. This is the first time that detailed histopathologic features of skin abdominal wall transplantation from cadaver donors are described. Five adults and four children underwent 10 transplants because of large abdominal wall defects. Twenty-two posttransplantation skin specimens were evaluated during a mean follow-up of 23.5 weeks, and the findings were compared with the clinical appearance of the skin. Rejection was manifested as a maculopapular rash. The histologic features were categorized as perivascular infiltrates, epidermal changes, and stromal changes. A grading system is proposed based on the number of cases encountered: No rejection, grade 0 (n = 9): No perivascular infiltrates. Indeterminate for rejection, grade 1 (n = 2): Up to 10% of vessels show infiltrates of small lymphocytes. No eosinophils, large lymphocytes, spongiosis, epidermal, or stromal inflammation are seen. Mild rejection, grade 2 (n = 5): 11% to 50% of vessels are infiltrated by small lymphocytes. Eosinophils and mild spongiosis may or may not be present. No epidermal infiltrates, stromal infiltrates, or large lymphocytes are seen. Moderate rejection, grade 3 (n = 4): Greater than 50% of vessels show lymphocytic infiltrates that may be accompanied by epidermal and stromal inflammation. Spongiosis is absent or mild. Endothelial plumping, eosinophils, and large lymphocytes may be seen. Severe rejection, grade 4 (n = 2): Greater than 50% of vessels show infiltrates, but different from moderate rejection, there is dyskeratosis and the epidermis shows heavier lymphocytic infiltrates and moderate to severe spongiosis. The stroma shows infiltrates extending into the base of the epidermis. Endothelial plumping, eosinophils, and large lymphocytes are present. The mean number of weeks after transplantation for the development of clearcut rejection (grades 2-4) was 8.36. Among the 9 nonrejection cases, 4 specimens from 3 patients had thrombosis of the vessels feeding the graft. A grading system serves to better assess skin allograft rejection.

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