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JAMA Surg. 2014 Oct;149(10):1060-6. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2014.1072.

Chronic intestinal failure after Crohn disease: when to perform transplantation.

Author information

Department of General, Visceral, and Transplantation Surgery, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Berlin, Germany.
Oxford Transplant Centre, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Berlin, Germany.

Erratum in

  • JAMA Surg. 2014 Dec;149(12):1313. Baumgar, Daniel C [Corrected to Baumgart, Daniel C].



Because of the severity of disease and additional surgery, Crohn disease (CD) may result in intestinal failure (IF) and dependency on home parenteral nutrition (HPN). Defining the indication and timing for intestinal transplantation (ITx) is challenging.


To determine the limitations of conventional surgery and to facilitate the decision making for transplantation.


Data were collected prospectively and obtained by retrospective review of medical records from all patients with CD who were assessed for ITx in Oxford, United Kingdom, and Berlin, Germany, from October 10, 2003, through July 31, 2013. Patients were considered suitable for ITx if a diagnosis of irreversible IF was established and life-threatening complications under HPN were unresolvable. Twenty patients with CD and IF, established on HPN, were evaluated for ITx. The mean (SD) age at CD onset was 17.8 (9.8) years. On first diagnosis, most patients had a stricturing CD. By the time of referral, most had a combination of stricturing and fistulizing disease.


New scoring system: a modification of the American Gastroenterology Association guidelines for ITx. Modifications are related to CD-specific issues that potentially lead to a poorer outcome and are based on the findings of the study to determine the expected benefit from ITx.


A scoring system that would alert the physician to the severity of the patient's CD and trigger early referral for ITx. This system may translate into better long-term outcomes for patients with CD. In addition, the Karnofsky performance status score was used to compare pretransplantation and posttransplantation outcomes.


Ten patients underwent ITx, 4 were on the waiting list, and 4 were unavailable for follow-up. One patient was taken off the waiting list because of severe deterioration. One patient underwent conventional stricturoplasty and did not need transplantation. Among the transplant recipients, 17 (85%) had a stoma or enterocutaneous fistula, and the mean (SD) residual bowel length was 71.5 (38) cm. A total of 80% of transplant recipients had life-threatening catheter infections, and 13 (65%) had a significant decrease in the estimated glomerular filtration rate. At a mean (SD) follow-up of 27.6 (36.1) months for transplant recipients, the patient and graft survival is 80%, and their Karnofsky performance status score increased by a mean of 18.6%.


Intestinal transplantation is a suitable treatment option for patients with CD and IF. It should be considered before any additional attempts at conventional surgery, which may cause eligible patients to miss this opportunity through perioperative complications. The suggested scoring system enables the physician to identify patients who may benefit from transplantation before HPN-associated secondary organ failure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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