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Review Article bersichtsarbeit

Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 Published online: June 6, 2014

DOI: 10.1159/000363589

The Surgical Approach to Short Bowel Syndrome

Autologous Reconstruction versus Transplantation
Aparna Rege
Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

Keywords Schlsselwrter
Short bowel syndrome SBS Parenteral nutrition Kurzdarmsyndrom KDS Parenterale Ernhrung
PN Autologous gastrointestinal reconstruction PE Autologe gastrointestinale Rekonstruktion
AGIR Longitudinal intestinal lengthening and tailoring AGIR Longitudinale intestinale Verlngerungsoperation
LILT Serial transverse enteroplasty STEP LILT Serielle transverse Enteroplastie STEP
Ultra-short bowel syndrome USBS Ultrakurzdarmsyndrom USBS

Summary Zusammenfassung
Background: Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a state of malab- Hintergrund: Das Kurzdarmsyndrom (KDS) stellt einen Zustand
sorption resulting from massive small bowel resection leading der Malabsorption dar, der aus einer massiven Dnndarmresek-
to parenteral nutrition (PN) dependency. Considerable ad- tion, die zur Abhngigkeit von parenteraler Ernhrung (PE)
vances have been achieved in the medical and surgical man- fhrt, resultiert. In den letzten Jahrzehnten wurden erhebliche
agement of SBS over the last few decades. Methods: This re- Fortschritte in der internistischen und chirurgischen Behand-
view discusses in detail the surgical approach to SBS. Results: lung des KDS erreicht. Methoden: Diese bersicht beschreibt im
Widespread use of PN enables long-term survival in patients Detail die chirurgische Herangehensweise an das KDS. Ergeb-
with intestinal failure but at the cost of PN-associated life- nisse: Die weit verbreitete Verwendung von PE ermglicht ein
threatening complications including catheter-associated blood Langzeitberleben bei Patienten mit Darmversagen, jedoch auf
stream infection, venous thrombosis, and liver disease. The Kosten der PE-assoziierten lebensbedrohlichen Komplikationen
goal of management of intestinal failure due to SBS is to wie Katheter-assoziierter Blutvergiftung, Venenthrombose und
enable enteral autonomy and wean PN by means of a multi- Lebererkrankung. Das Ziel des Managements von Darmver-
disciplinary approach. Availability of modified enteral feeding sagen aufgrund von KDS ist die Ermglichung einer enteralen
formulas have simplified nutrition supplementation in SBS Autonomie und die Entwhnung von der PE durch einen multi-
patients. Similarly, advances in the medical field have made disziplinren Ansatz. Die Verfgbarkeit von modifizierten entera-
medications like growth hormone and glucagon-like peptide len Ernhrungsformen hat die ergnzende Nhrstoffversorgung
(GLP2) available to improve water and nutrient absorption as von KDS-Patienten vereinfacht. Gleichzeitig haben Fortschritte
well as to enable achieving enteral autonomy. Autologous gas- in der Medizin dafr gesorgt, dass das Wachstumshormon und
trointestinal reconstruction (AGIR) includes various techniques Glucagon-like-Peptide (GLP2) zur medikamentsen Behandlung
which manipulate the bowel surgically to facilitate the bowel zur Verfgung stehen, um die Wasser- und Nhrstoffabsorption
adaptation process and restoration of enteral nutrition. Ulti- zu verbessern und das Erreichen einer enteralen Autonomie zu
mately, intestinal transplantation can serve as the last option ermglichen. Die autologe gastrointestinale Rekonstruktion
for the cure of intestinal failure when selectively applied. Con- (AGIR) umfasst verschiedene Techniken, die den Darm chirur-
clusion: SBS continues to be a challenging medical problem. gisch manipulieren, um den Anpassungsprozess des Darms und
Best patient outcomes can be achieved through an individual- die Wiederherstellung der enteralen Ernhrung zu erleichtern.
ized plan, using various AGIR techniques to complement each Letztlich kann eine Darmtransplantation als letzte Option zur
other, and intestinal transplantation as a last resort for cure. Heilung von Darmversagen dienen, wenn diese selektiv ange-
Maximum benefit and improved outcomes can be achieved by wendet wird. Schlussfolgerung: Das KDS stellt weiterhin eine
caring for SBS patients at highly specialized intestinal rehabili- schwierige medizinische Herausforderung dar. Die besten Er-
tation centers. gebnisse fr die Patienten knnen mittels einer individuellen
Planung, in deren Rahmen sich verschiedene AGIR-Techniken
ergnzen, sowie der Darmtransplantation als letzte Mglichkeit
der Heilung erreicht werden. Maximaler Nutzen und verbesserte
Ergebnisse knnen durch die Betreuung von Patienten mit KDS
in hochspezialisierten Darmzentren erreicht werden.

2014 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg Aparna Rege, M.D.

1662-6664/14/0303-0179$39.50/0 Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery
Fax +49 761 4 52 07 14 Duke University Medical Center Accessible online at: DUMC Box 3512, Durham, NC 27710, USA
Introduction tent of resection also strongly influences the degree of intesti-
nal adaptation and thereby the ability to wean PN [16]. Al-
Since its introduction in the late 1960s, parenteral nutri- though the ileum has a greater adaptive capacity than the je-
tion (PN) has been the mainstay of therapy for patients with junum, massive ileal resection has a significantly worse impact
intestinal failure [1]. Advances in recent years have improved than jejunal resection, as the ileum plays an important role in
survival in PN-dependent patients, primarily through a multi- electrolyte and water absorption as well as absorption of vita-
disciplinary approach including various medical and surgical min B12, bile salts, and fatty acids [17, 18]. Younger patients
rehabilitation strategies aimed at achieving enteral autonomy (infants and neonates) are much more likely to adapt due to
[24]. Yet, 1926% of patients continue to be permanently periods of rapid bowel growth as evidenced by nearly a dou-
PN-dependent and develop a high rate of complications that bling of the bowel length in the first 18 months of life, and
lead to high mortality rates of 1338% by 25 years following hence they are more likely to wean off PN [19, 20].
the development of intestinal failure [5, 6]. In some patients, however, rapid bowel growth results in ex-
This review aims at discussing the various strategies involved cessive dilatation of the remnant bowel resulting in dysmotility
in the surgical approach to short bowel syndrome (SBS). and stasis which promotes bacterial overgrowth contributing to
malabsorption, bacterial translocation with systemic infection,
and ultimately liver injury [21, 22]. This may further negatively
Surgical Rehabilitation in Intestinal Failure impact ongoing adaptation and thus the ability to wean PN [23,
24]. Since bowel dilatation is a natural sequel of adaptation, sur-
Initial surgical management of patients at risk for SBS in- gery should be deferred unless dilatation causes recurrent epi-
cludes every attempt to conserve as much bowel as possible sodes of bacteremia [25, 26]. It is noted that bowel dilatation
even though planned serial second look surgeries may be re- occurs more commonly in younger patients who more often are
quired to evaluate for viability of marginal bowel segments. candidates for surgical rehabilitation as compared to adults [27].
Following recovery from the initial episode and return of
bowel function, administration of enteral feeds and, if possi-
ble, early stoma closure are recommended to enhance adapta- Autologous Gastrointestinal Reconstruction
tion and help in weaning PN [7]. In almost 75% of patients
with SBS, intestinal adaptation precludes the need for surgical Most centers are conservative in recommending intestinal-
rehabilitation and is often sufficient to support growth and lengthening procedures, only offering it as an adjunct to nutri-
long-term survival [8]. However, since adaptation is a slow tional and medical management in patients who have reached
process extending over 6 months to 2 years, patients should be a plateau in weaning PN. When allowing spontaneous intesti-
given adequate time to reach their full adaptive potential nal adaptation, frequent assessment is needed to reassure ade-
prior to any surgical consideration [8, 9]. quate growth while avoiding intestinal failure-associated liver
Bowel adaptation is a remodeling process, involving com- disease (IFALD) and other serious complications of PN such
pensatory mechanisms aimed at improving the absorptive ca- as recurrent line infections and loss of venous access [28, 29].
pacity of the remnant bowel following intestinal loss. Increase Due to the PN-associated comorbidities, the initial goal in
in the intestinal mass and surface area occurs through entero- management of patients with intestinal failure is to enable PN
cyte and crypt cell proliferation, increase in microvilli with weaning. Autologous gastrointestinal reconstruction (AGIR)
taller villi and deeper crypts, and hyperplasia and hypertro- further facilitates the adaptation process and attempts to re-
phy of the smooth muscle layers. Adaptation is an ongoing verse complications of PN. AGIR can be considered once max-
process that begins 2448 h after surgical resection, progress- imal adaptation is achieved and further weaning of PN fails or
ing rapidly during the initial 424 months following intestinal with recurrence of malabsorption in previously achieved partial
loss, and can take years to complete [10, 11]. Following intes- or complete adaptation as demonstrated by stable fluid and/or
tinal resection the motor activity of the bowel is also disrupted calorie requirements from intravenous supplementation [30,
for a few months [12]. Studies have demonstrated a shorter 31]. With the onset of PN-induced advanced liver disease mani-
duration of migrating motor complex cycle and fed pattern fested by coagulopathy and portal hypertension, intestinal
after resection [13]. Once this initial phase is over, motor ad- transplantation remains the only salvageable option [32, 33].
aptation begins, more prominently in the jejunum than in the The principle of AGIR relies on bowel dilatation resulting
ileum. Combination of the structural and motor adaptation from post-resectional adaptation [34] and the ability to ma-
results in prolonged intestinal transit time and improved ab- nipulate this dilated bowel surgically to improve the dysmotil-
sorption by individual enterocytes. ity and the absorption, thereby facilitating enteral autonomy
Various factors influencing intestinal adaptation include [35]. Of the various methods of reconstruction, tapering en-
gastrointestinal regulatory peptides, growth factors, hor- teroplasty, Bianchis longitudinal intestinal lengthening and
mones, and cytokines in addition to tissue factors including tailoring (LILT), and the serial transverse enteroplasty
immunity, blood flow, and neural influences [14, 15]. The ex- (STEP) have gained wide acceptance [34]. The main predictor

180 Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 Rege

Table. 1. Different operative approaches for SBS including advantages and limitations of the different techniques

AGIR procedure

antiperistaltic segments colon interposition: Bianchi LILT STEP lengthening others: intestinal valves, tapering, and plication
iso- or antiperistaltic

Indications adequate small bowel length i) rapid transit time i) dilated small bowel i) dilated remnant small bowel valves:
with or without remnant colon with any length of >3 cm in diameter, >20 cm >34 cm in diameter i) non-dilated, short remnant native small bowel
but with rapid transit and remnant small bowel in length, with length of ii) presence of foreshortened length (with/without remnant colon), with rapid transit
diarrhea or increased ileostomy but with adequate residual small bowel mesentery (duodenum) ii) to create dilatation in short bowel segment for

The Surgical Approach to Short Bowel

output due to absence of colon length >40 cm iii) with prior abdominal subsequent AGIR
ileocecal valve ii) USBS ii) preferred initial surgeries without preservation tapering and plication:
lengthening option of both leaves of the mesentery dilated bowel with malabsorption in presence of
iv) dilated segments shorter adequate intestinal length
than 20 cm
v) when re-dilatation occurs

Advantages slows the transit and enhances i) no use/loss of i) doubles length of the i) simpler technique than LILT valves: increased transit time + improved enteral
nutrient absorption by: precious small bowel original small bowel ii) can be applied to absorption
i) partial mechanical length segment asymmetrical bowel dilatation, tapering: optimizes bowel caliber and effective
obstruction ii) can be applied to the over shorter or longer lengths peristalsis return
ii) delay of distal segment colon as well iii) can be repeated post STEP plication: optimizes bowel caliber without long suture
myoelectric activity or LILT line and preserves mucosal mass
iv) can be applied to previously
operated bowel

PN weaning Panis/Thompson 75% Glick 50% Bianchi 75%, Weber Sudan 58%, STEP Registry unclear due to non-uniform outcomes
100%, Thompson 53% 48%

Disadvantages i) risk of obstruction with i) fatal/nonfatal i) needs uniformly dilated i) needs dilated bowel segment valves:
longer reversed segments obstruction bowel segment (non-uniform) i) intussuception
ii) cannot be used when ii) enterocolitis in the ii) one-time surgery, ii) staple line perforations or ii) obstruction and bacterial overgrowth

Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189
remnant bowel length is transposed segment cannot be duplicated on the leaks iii) sacrifice of valuable bowel length if unsuccessful
<25 cm iii) colonic dilatation same bowel loop following iii) re-dilatation with failure to tapering:
iii) loss of bowel length if iv) unpredictability re-dilatation increase absorption i) loss of significant mucosal absorptive surface
unsuccessful iii) risk of necrosis with iv) morbidity 18.4% ii) long suture line with risk of leak
mesenteric damage v) mortality 7.9% both Sudan plication:
iv) morbidity 15% et al. & Modi et al. i) obstruction
v) mortality: Bianchi 45%, ii) re-dilatation due to unraveling from suture
Hosie 1020% breakdown

AGIR = Autologous gastrointestinal reconstruction; STEP = serial transverse enteroplasty; LILT = longitudinal intestinal lengthening and tailoring; USBS = ultra-short bowel syndrome;
PN = parenteral nutrition.

Fig. 1. Bianchi Fig. 2. STEP: Serial
LILT. A Separating transverse application
the two leaves of the of a linear stapler, on
mesentery carrying alternate sides mid-
blood supply to half way between the me-
of the circumference senteric and anti-me-
of the bowel. B Cre- senteric border, creat-
ating a mesenteric ing a zig-zag longer,
tunnel for division of narrower intestinal
the dilated bowel. channel which straight-
C, D Division of the ens over a period of
dilated bowel with a time. (Reproduced
surgical stapler into with permission from
two separate pieces, [132].)
one-half the size of
the original dilated
loop. E The two reversed segments [47]. Obviously, this technique cannot be
bowel loops are then used when the remnant bowel length is <25 cm.
anastomosed to- A recent largest series of SBS patients treated with re-
gether in an isoperi- versed segment concluded that a distally placed reversed in-
staltic manner. (Reproduced with permission from [60].)
testinal segment of 1012 cm is an appealing and safe conserv-
ative alternative to small bowel transplantation in adults with
of the ability to achieve enteral autonomy following AGIR is permanent PN dependency, with a minimum small bowel
the final length of the remaining small intestine [36, 37]. It is length (SBL) of 25 cm, and without chronic liver failure [48].
now well accepted that with a remnant bowel length < 40 cm, Unlike other procedures, it can be performed regardless of
the probability of permanent PN dependency is fairly high the bowel diameter with the expectation of almost half of the
[38]. In such cases, where the chance of spontaneous adapta- patients to be weaned from PN.
tion is minimal, creating controlled obstruction to actively When remnant bowel represents 10% (with ICV) or 20%
generate bowel dilatation is suggested in order to be able to (without ICV) of predicted SBL, it is termed ultra-short bowel
perform AGIR surgery later [39]. syndrome (USBS). It usually arises from massive small bowel
Careful patient selection is essential to avoid unnecessary resection, congenital jejuno-ileal atresia, or in rare cases of
operations, since some infants especially with low birth weight vanishing gastroschisis. In such cases AGIR should be consid-
and necrotizing enterocolitis as the etiology leading to a very ered as a complementary rather than a rescue procedure [49].
short bowel remnant may wean off PN without any AGIR A recent small case series of patients with USBS due to jeju-
procedures at all [38]. nal atresia has shown that persistent proximal obstruction with
In a select group of patients, despite long remnants of small sham feeds and periodic gastrostomy tube clamping helps to di-
bowel, rapid transit results in increased ileostomy output due late the proximal jejunal remnant and optimizes the potential
to absence of ileocecal valve (ICV) and colon. Placing a re- for AGIR [50]. Following lengthening procedure (STEP), the
verse intestinal segment proximal to the ileostomy in such SBL increases by an average of nearly 300% in comparison to
cases can suffice to slow the transit and facilitate nutrient and the average expected increase of 37% without therapy. Sham
fluid absorption. These patients often wax and wane clinically, feeds and gastrostomy clamping alone produced a mean SBL
requiring nutrient and fluid replacements periodically [40]. increase of 159%, suggesting that the technique can dramati-
This concept of reversed intestinal segment dates back to the cally augment gut growth within the first few months of life
1880s [41]; however, it received more popularity in the latter compared to the rate of expected normal growth.
half of the 20th century as one of the earliest surgical proce- Different AGIR options (table 1) must be tailored individ-
dures designed to slow intestinal transit [42, 43]. ually according to the length and type of residual intestine,
An antiperistaltic bowel loop, by its virtue, creates partial but in certain situations combination of various techniques
mechanical obstruction and delays myoelectric activity in the may prove more beneficial than a single procedure. USBS is a
distal segment, thus slowing the transit to enhance nutrient perfect example of this situation. Enteral autonomy has been
absorption [44]. reported in a patient with a remnant of 5 cm of the jejunum
Although smaller case series have suggested a length of the and entire colon with definitive surgery aimed at lengthening
reversed segment between 1015 cm for adults and around 3 the remnant jejunum and part of the colon (Bianchi tech-
cm for children for maximal benefit [45, 46], uncertainty in es- nique), delaying transit with antiperistaltic anastomosis of the
tablishing the ideal length and location of the reversed intesti- lengthened colon, and increasing the rectal capacity by creat-
nal segment produced variable results when applied clinically. ing a hypotonic reservoir proximal to the rectum with a sig-
Despite the purported benefits, this technique failed to gain moid J pouch in order to diminish both urgency and frequency
popularity due to the potential risk of obstruction with longer of stools [51]. This report indicated that similar to the small

182 Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 Rege

bowel, colonic duplication is also technically feasible. A ben- Anatomic criteria suggested for patient selection for LILT in-
eficial delay in intestinal transit can be achieved with careful clude i) intestinal diameter > 3 cm, ii) length of residual small
antiperistaltic colonic interposition, despite prior reports of bowel > 40 cm, and iii) length of dilated bowel > 20 cm [64].
unpredictability and fatal obstruction [52]. However, others suggest that regardless of the bowel
In the event of a too short remnant small bowel precluding length, intestinal lengthening procedures are indicated with
AGIR, isoperistaltic colon interposition can be a useful tech- life-threatening complications of PN or when substantial
nique in patients with USBS [53]. Under exceptional circum- bowel dilatation occurs with intestinal failure [65].
stances the colon adopts an important metabolic role, with bac- In the event the bowel mesentery is unavailable for split-
terial metabolism and fermentation within the colon exerting a ting due to adhesions from previous surgeries or when the
significant trophic effect on the mucosa of the small intestine short gut consists of only the dilated duodenum, the Iowa
and colon [54]. The colonic segment adapts to its new location two-step elongation procedure, another modification, seems
with hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the mucosal crypt glands more appropriate than LILT [66]. Here, the bowel is initially
and developing contractile responses similar to those of the re- connected to a host organ, such as liver [66], abdominal wall
maining small bowel [55, 56]. However, complications arising [67], or adjacent bowel [68], to allow vessel collaterals to grow
from colonic dilatation and enterocolitis within the transposed into the attached bowel segment, following which the bowel is
segment make this procedure rather unappealing. lengthened with a longitudinal split followed by isoperistaltic
One of the simpler procedures of AGIR is a tapering en- anastomosis of the resulting new bowel loops. Since this
teroplasty, which involves excising a wedge of the antime- method requires multiple laparotomies with several weeks of
senteric border of the dilated bowel followed by suturing the time between surgeries to enable parasitization of the blood
remnant bowel into a tube [57]. This reduces the diameter of supply, it failed to find widespread application.
the dilated bowel and facilitates an early return of effective A review of worldwide published series of LILT revealed
peristalsis. This procedure was preferred to resection for man- varying results with an overall survival ranging from 30 to
aging dilated bowel in jejunal atresia [58]. Since tapering en- 100%, and the ability to wean from PN as 28100% [35, 69
teroplasty optimizes bowel caliber at the expense of loss of 71]. Early reports of the LILT showed a high complication rate
significant mucosal absorptive surface, it should be reserved with anastomotic stenosis, staple line leakage, interloop ab-
to tackle stasis and malabsorption in a dilated bowel only in scess and fistulae formation, and hemiloop necrosis resulting
the presence of adequate intestinal length. It can also be a from vascular compromise [35, 72], but with more experience
procedure of choice when vascular anatomy of the dilated the complication rate has been reduced [70]. LILT is a techni-
bowel does not permit bowel division for a lengthening proce- cally difficult procedure with disadvantages including the ne-
dure. Tapering results in a long suture line that may increase cessity for uniform dilatation of the segment to be lengthened
the risk of anastomotic leakage. and occurrence of recurrent dilatation necessitating additional
The technique of intestinal plication was designed by cir- surgeries. This procedure is a one-time surgery which cannot
cumferential plication of the dilated bowel after folding the be repeated on the same intestinal segment, as the vasculature
redundant antimesenteric wall into the lumen to avoid the within the mesentery is not further dissectable; however, LILT
long anastomotic suture line of enteroplasty and also preserve is definitely feasible after a prior STEP [73].
the mucosal mass which is an important consideration in SBS In 2003, STEP, a simpler technique of bowel lengthening,
[59]. With long-term follow-up, development of obstruction was introduced by Kim to limit dilatation with minimal risk of
and redilatation due to unraveling from suture breakdown has intestinal ischemia and in the absence of uniform dilatation
been reported. over a longer segment (fig. 2) [74]. STEP was first clinically
One of the biggest revolutions in the management of SBS applied to dilated bowel following a Bianchi LILT [75]. From
came about in 1980, when Bianchi reported the longitudinal the technical perspective STEP has many clear advantages
intestinal lengthening procedure which doubled the length of over LILT as it is easily reproducible, precludes the need of
the original segment (fig. 1) [60]. Anatomic variations of the an anastomosis, requires minimal mesenteric dissection, re-
blood supply, such as predominant blood supply to one side of ducing the chance of vascular compromises, and above all it
the intestinal wall, limit the potential success of the procedure can be performed primarily or repeatedly in patients who de-
[61]. Hence, an account of the vascular pattern should always velop redilation of their bowel after a LILT or STEP proce-
be taken into consideration before splitting the mesentery and dure [76, 77]. Asymmetrical bowel dilatations in the short
transecting the bowel. Various modifications of the Bianchi bowel consisting of intricate intestinal segments such as the
procedure include using cautery and sutures to minimize sta- duodenum and adjacent jejunum are better served with STEP
pler-associated leaks and bleeding [62] and oblique stapler ap- than LILT [74]. STEP has also shown promising results as a
plication at the proximal and distal ends of the dilated small primary procedure in neonates with intestinal atresia and
bowel to obviate the need for complete bowel division, creat- marginal length [78, 79]. Problematic bacterial overgrowth in-
ing a single hand-sewn anastomosis and thus eliminating po- cluding D-lactic acidosis has been better handled with a STEP
tential sites of leak or stricture with two anastomoses [63]. procedure since, besides reducing stasis and increasing carbo-

The Surgical Approach to Short Bowel Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 183

hydrate and fat absorption, it decreases the overall bacterial Earlier procedures designed to delay intestinal transit in-
load, thus reducing the amount of carbohydrate substrate cluded artificial valves, recycling loops and pouches, and in-
available for D-lactic acid production [80]. testinal pacing [35]. Outcomes with these procedures have not
Adaptation continues after STEP procedure, requiring on been uniformly successful and as such they are only of histori-
average 12 years for noticing significant improvement in in- cal significance. Interestingly, intussusception valve, created
testinal absorption and function. The progress can be gauged by the eversion technique similar to creating an ileostomy,
by studying various markers like D-xylose [81], a marker of found a role in dilating short segments of bowel by partial me-
carbohydrate absorption and mucosal integrity, plasma citrul- chanical obstruction, subsequently allowing intestinal length-
line [82], a marker of small bowel enterocyte mass, and fecal ening procedures [90]. However, since valuable small bowel
fat content, a marker of intestinal absorptive function. Im- length is sacrificed in valve construction and subsequent un-
provement in intestinal function is secondary to an absolute controllable bowel obstruction may demand valve removal,
increase in mucosal absorptive surface area or healing of ex- the procedure failed to gain popularity [35].
isting inflamed and atrophic mucosa resulting from stasis and All available literature suggests that no single AGIR tech-
bacterial overgrowth. Intestinal bacterial load also decreases nique offers a rapid guaranteed cure for intestinal failure with-
post-STEP, and gradually, with an absolute increase in the out any potential complications. Attempts to achieve enteral
surface area, the residual intestine begins to dilate, represent- autonomy are generally better with longer bowel lengths and a
ing ongoing intestinal adaptation. It takes an average of about greater initial absorptive capability [88]. End-stage liver failure
1224 months for redilatation [83]. is a clear contraindication for AGIR and necessitates trans-
However, excessive dilatation may re-invite stasis and bac- plantation; hence, bowel lengthening procedures should be
terial overgrowth resulting in malabsorption, and this pre- performed before the development of liver disease in SBS pa-
vents achievement of intestinal autonomy in a significant pro- tients [91]. The role of surgical rehabilitation is to obviate the
portion of patients. This is when a repeat STEP or surgical need for intestinal transplantation but when it fails to generate
tapering is required [84]. Following a repeat STEP, 1343% of adequate bowel length for a healthy, disease-free survival,
patients successfully wean off PN regardless of type of initial AGIR serves as a bridge to intestinal transplantation [92].
bowel lengthening [85]. Principles to be followed during re-
peat STEP include firing of the stapler twice in an alternating
fashion between each initial staple line to maintain the intesti- Intestinal Transplantation
nal continuity, avoiding the creation of blind ends of bowel, or
the other option involves single stapler application between Over the years, small bowel transplantation has emerged
each initial staple line resulting in several blind ends that ulti- as a curative alternative in patients with intestinal failure ena-
mately need resection [86]. To ensure good blood supply, the bling reduction in PN-associated complications and providing
staple firings should be applied in a sufficiently dilated seg- an improved quality of life with better nutrition. The main
ment of bowel which may be difficult due to the asymmetric goal of intestinal transplantation is the restoration of enteral
bowel dilatation after the primary STEP [87]. nutrition. Up to 90% of patients undergoing intestinal trans-
In order to better track STEP outcomes worldwide, a web- plantation can be free of PN [32].
based International Data Registry for patients undergoing Following the initial pioneering work by Alexis Carrell in
STEP was established at the 20th century and animal experiments by Lillehei in 1959
The choice for one of both surgical lengthening options is [93], the first clinical transplants were performed in pediatric
essentially driven by feasibility of the procedures and the as- patients in Boston in 1964 [94]. The initial attempts failed due
sociated outcome. A Bianchi is the preferred initial surgical to technical complications and lack of effective immunosup-
option for lengthening, enabling a STEP to be performed at a pressive regimens [95, 96]. The first successful multivisceral
later date once recurrent dilation occurs. Similarly, the STEP transplantation with survival was reported by Thomas Starzl
procedure is the better choice when patients have foreshort- et al. [97] in 1987, followed by Goulet et al. [98] reporting the
ened mesentery or prior surgeries without preservation of first successful isolated small bowel transplant with long-term
both leaves of the mesentery [74, 88]. Since higher failure and survival, and Grant et al. [99] reporting the first combined
mortality rates have been reported with LILT in shorter rem- transplantation of liver and small bowel in 1989.
nant intestinal segments, STEP should be the indicated length- Further remarkable improvements in patient and graft sur-
ening procedure for dilated segments shorter than 20 cm [89]. vival have been attributed to technical improvements, novel
Both LILT and STEP are comparable procedures without immunosuppressive agents, better understanding of the im-
any obvious advantages over each other. The rate of total PN mune and gastrointestinal physiology, significant advances in
weaning is more or less similar in both but STEP enables anesthesia and critical care, and an overall increase in clinical
rapid wean of total PN due to its ability to increase the final program experience [100102].
length to more than 100% of the original length in contrast to The major revolution in intestinal transplantation came
Bianchi LILT, where the original length is only doubled [88]. when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

184 Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 Rege

Fig. 3. Isolated intes- Intestinal transplantation has several variants depending
tinal transplantation: on concomitant other organ failure needing replacement si-
The entire jejunum
multaneously with the intestines. Isolated intestinal transplan-
and ileum is trans-
planted with or with- tation (SBTx) is indicated in irreversible intestinal failure in
out the colon main- the absence of associated severe liver dysfunction as proven
taining as much func- by a liver biopsy (fig. 3). The graft may come from a cadaveric
tional native bowel as or a living donor. Perfect size match or size reduction, to
possible. The arterial
transplant a segment of 200 cm, is required to enable abdo-
inflow is through an
anastomosis between men closure [112]. The combined liver-intestinal transplanta-
the graft superior me- tion (SB-LTx) is indicated when intestinal failure patients
senteric artery and have coexisting irreversible liver disease. Here, the liver can
the native aorta be transplanted separately or in continuity with the bowel, en
whereas the venous
bloc with the pancreaticoduodenal arc, via the Omaha tech-
drainage is estab-
lished into the infe- nique in which biliary reconstruction is avoided as the donor
rior vena cava or the duodenum serves as a conduit for biliary and pancreatic secre-
mesenteric portal sys- tions from the graft (fig. 4). MVTx involves removal and re-
tem (as shown) through the graft superior mesenteric vein (transplanted placement of both native foregut and midgut. The graft may
organs are shaded). (Reproduced with permission from [32].)
include liver, kidneys, and large intestine depending on the
need (fig. 5). In all these transplants, enterostomy of the distal
accepted bowel transplant as the standard of care for intesti- graft ileum is performed to serve for graft surveillance
nal failure patients failing PN and other medical or surgical through repeated biopsies assessing allograft rejection.
rehabilitation attempts, and offered insurance coverage for Intestinal rehabilitation plays an important role in adapta-
the procedure [103]. tion post transplantation since grafts may have varying de-
Currently, small bowel transplantation is offered to SBS in- grees of failure resulting in compromised tolerance to enteral
dividuals who experience PN failure including recurrent cathe- feeding due to anatomical and functional changes induced by
ter-related infections (more than two per year, fungemia, ischemia-reperfusion injury, denervation, absence of lym-
shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)), thrombo- phatic drainage of the allograft, and rejection episodes [113,
sis of two of the six major central venous accesses, alterations 114]. Initial nutrition is provided through PN with gradual
of growth and development in children, severe dehydration transition to enteral diet comprising elemental or polymeric
with refractory electrolyte changes, and impending liver failure formulas when the graft shows signs of function [115]. A low-
or established liver disease with cirrhosis and portal hyperten- fat or low-long-chain triglyceride diet is sometimes preferred
sion [104]. Further indications also include treatment of motil- to reduce the risk of chylous ascites [116].
ity disorders like total intestinal aganglionosis and microvillus In children, a SB-LTx is the leading type of transplantation
inclusion disease, gastrointestinal neoplastic syndromes involv- (50%), followed by the isolated SBTx (37%) and the MVTx
ing the celiac or mesenteric roots like desmoid tumors and well (13%). In adults, transplantation of the intestine alone is usu-
differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, and enterocyte deficien- ally performed (55%), followed by the MVTx (24%) and the
cies such as USBS with residual small intestine <10 cm in in- SB-LTx combination (21%) [32]. Isolated SBTx is increasing
fants and <20 cm in adults [105, 106]. When SBS results from in frequency and now exceeds the number of combined liver
certain abdominal catastrophes like extensive abdominal and intestine transplants which used to be performed more
trauma, extensive intestinal resection, multiple enterocutane- commonly [117]. Recent data from the international Intestinal
ous fistulas, or chronic diffuse mesenteric vascular thrombosis, Transplant Registry (ITR) and Scientific Registry of Trans-
complete replacement of all organs of the abdominal cavity plant Recipients (SRTR) annual report have documented sig-
(multivisceral transplantation (MVTx)) is required to reestab- nificant improvement in the patient and graft survival follow-
lish normal physiology [107]. Multivisceral transplantation is ing intestinal transplantation in the last decade [118, 119].
also indicated with complex portal mesenteric system thrombo- For patients undergoing intestinal transplant in 2007, 1-
sis [108], even in the absence of liver or intestinal failure, but and 5-year graft survival was 69.2 and 53.8%, respectively, for
more commonly in the context of liver transplantation with recipients <18 years, and 74.2 and 48.3%, respectively, for re-
complete portal vein thrombosis extending into the superior cipients >18 years or older. 1- and 5-year graft survival was
mesenteric vein (grade III/IV per Yerdel classification) [109]. 74.6 and 48.0%, respectively, among SBTx recipients, and
There is now an emerging philosophy of earlier interven- 68.6 and 53.7%, respectively, among SB-LTx recipients. Con-
tion, with encouraging results reported in transplants being sidering both recipient age and organ transplanted, adult re-
performed at an earlier stage [110] justified by the higher cipients of intestinal transplants have the best 1-year graft sur-
mortality faced by IFALD patients awaiting combined liver/ vival (79.6%), and pediatric recipients of intestine-liver trans-
intestinal transplantation [111]. plants have the best 5-year graft survival (56.3%) [117]. A

The Surgical Approach to Short Bowel Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 185

Fig. 4. Combined Fig. 5. Multivisceral
liver-intestinal trans- transplantation: The
plantation: The liver is native abdominal vis-
transplanted en bloc cera is resected and
with the small bowel, the composite graft,
arterial supply is estab- including the liver,
lished through the stomach, pancreati-
superior mesenteric coduodenal complex,
artery and celiac trunk and small intestine, are
graft through a conduit transplanted en bloc.
to the aorta, and ve- The arterial supply is
nous drainage is made established through
through the hepatic the superior me-
veins to the inferior senteric artery and ce-
vena cava. The venous liac trunk graft
drainage of the native through a conduit to
viscera is established the aorta and venous
through a native por- drainage through the
tocaval shunt. The hepatic veins to the in-
upper gastrointestinal ferior vena cava, when
continuity is main- the liver is included
tained through the (as shown) and
native stomach and through the graft por-
pancreaticoduodenal complex which are retained and anastomosed to the tal vein to the cava
transplant jejunum (transplanted organs are shaded). (Reproduced with when recipient liver is retained. The gut continuity is restored by anasto-
permission from [32].) mosing the esophagus or gastric remnant with the stomach graft (trans-
planted organs are shaded). (Reproduced with permission from [32].)

significant decline in graft survival over the long term results portal hypertension resulting in better utilization of nutrients.
from infections, malignancy, and chronic rejection [120]. Further AGIR can also be performed post transplantation to
Controversies regarding the inclusion of the colon due to the reach enteral autonomy [31, 130, 131]. Despite the reported
risk of infection have been challenged with recent reports from benefits, iLTx should not become the standard of care but
few single center series documenting benefits of continence and should rather be considered with extreme caution in children
reduced incidence of dehydration with increased water absorp- with SBS and IFALD. Nutritional outcomes should be fol-
tion [121, 122]. Similarly, immunologic benefits, with inclusion of lowed closely to determine the need for additional AGIR sur-
the spleen, in the pediatric population have been documented geries or intestinal transplantation in the long term.
without altering the incidence of graft versus host disease [123].
Innovative techniques to deal with lack of space and difficult ab-
dominal closure when loss of domain exists include transplanta- Conclusion
tion of full-thickness abdominal wall [124] or vascularized [125]
or non-vascularized rectus fascia [126] along with the intestinal Management of intestinal failure resulting from SBS con-
allograft, reconstruction of the abdominal wall with acellular tinues to be a huge challenge. The potential benefits of both
dermal matrix [127], and staged abdominal wall closure [128]. AGIR and intestinal transplantation in surgical management
In some cases where there has been rapid progression of of short gut are now well evident. AGIR procedures offer less
liver disease with preserved venous access and intestinal auton- complicated and inexpensive techniques of achieving enteral
omy is possible, replacing the liver alone has been beneficial. autonomy using ones own bowel. Although intestinal trans-
Certain criteria were proposed by Dell-Olio et al. [129] for the plantation has demonstrated a clear life-saving role in manag-
success of isolated liver transplant (iLTx) in patients with intes- ing life-threatening intestinal failure, its benefits are limited
tinal failure which include i) established IFALD (serum bi- by organ availability as well as significant financial and physi-
lirubin > 200 mmol/l, moderate/severe fibrosis, portal hyperten- cal implications. However, best patient outcomes can be
sion), ii) at least 50 cm of remnant functional small bowel in the achieved through an individualized plan and a multidiscipli-
absence of ICV or 30 cm with ICV, iii) enteral tolerance of at nary approach with expertise available at an intestinal reha-
least 50% of the estimated daily energy requirement with an bilitation center.
associated increase in weight for a few weeks before the devel-
opment of IFALD, and iv) no history of recurrent line infec-
Disclosure Statement
tions in the presence of dilated dysmotile bowel. Increased
organ availability from a cadaveric split liver or a living donor The author does not have any conflicts of interest regarding this
makes this option very attractive. Advantages include cure of article.

186 Viszeralmedizin 2014;30:179189 Rege


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