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J Hand Surg Am. 2009 May-Jun;34(5):808-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2009.01.021.

A survey of north american hand surgeons on their current attitudes toward hand transplantation.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.



Although composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) is unparalleled in its potential to reconstruct "like with like," the risk-benefit ratio and clinical indications are difficult to determine. We examined current attitudes regarding the emerging field of CTA from those who treat complex hand injuries.


A web-based survey regarding CTA was sent to members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, which identified their demographic data and practice profiles. Respondents' support for CTA and their assessment of the level of risk associated with these procedures were addressed. Additional questions focused on the clinical application of CTA with current immunosuppression, ethical issues surrounding CTA, and the indications for hand transplantation. Finally, 2 clinical situations that closely mirrored past hand transplantations were presented, and members evaluated their suitability for allotransplantation.


A total of 474 surgeons responded to the survey (22% response rate), who were divided in their opinion of hand transplantation with 24% in favor, 45% against, and 31% undecided. The majority (69%) consider this surgery to be a high-risk endeavor; however, a large percentage (71%) still believe it to be an ethical procedure when performed on properly selected patients. The most accepted indications for hand transplantation were loss of bilateral hands (78%) and amputation of a dominant hand (32%). Only 16% were in favor of performing transplants with the immunosuppression available today. In response to the clinical situation, 66% would offer transplantation to a bilateral hand amputee, whereas only 9% would offer transplantation to a patient with diabetes who had lost his or her dominant hand.


This survey demonstrates support for hand allotransplantation as a solution for dominant-hand and bilateral hand amputees. However, surgeons continue to be concerned about the adverse effects of immunosuppression and the risks of acute and chronic rejection, and many want to wait for the development of better immunologic treatment options.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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