Although more than 70 hand transplants have been performed worldwide, the appropriate clinical indications for this operation are still being determined. Cost and patient exposure to the challenges of lifelong immunosuppression for what is a quality of life-improving (but not life-saving) operation are the focus of the ongoing discussion. A study performed in 2007 showed that surgeons' opinions on the issue varied widely. Recently, more information has been made available regarding long-term patient outcomes, and significant improvements in immunotherapy protocols have been reported. In light of this, we sought to examine changing attitudes regarding hand allotransplantation and its indications by surveying hand surgeons.An email-based survey was sent to members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Demographic information and practice profiles were identified, followed by their risk assessment of hand allotransplants and endorsement of performing the operation in different clinical scenarios. Additional questions focused on the appropriate indications for hand allotransplantation, as well as the procedure's associated ethical and financial implications.A total of 385 surgeons responded to the survey (14% response rate). The majority (82%) considered hand transplantation to be a high-risk operation (as opposed to 27% in hand replantation), with 78% citing lifelong immunosuppression as the primary factor impacting their overall risk assessment. The most commonly accepted indication for hand vascularized composite allotransplantation was loss of bilateral hands (80% in favor). Dominant hand loss (with an intact contralateral hand) was a far less frequently accepted indication (36% in favor). Patient adherence to immunosuppressive regimens (51%) and expectations of functional/aesthetic outcome (38%) were the most frequently chosen top psychosocial issues that must be addressed by the surgical/medical teams involved in the operation.Our study's results demonstrate increasing overall support for hand allotransplantation and increasing acceptance of today's immunosuppressive regimens compared to prior literature. Bilateral hand loss remains the primary agreed-upon indication for transplantation. Despite increasing acceptance in the surgical community, the dangers of chronic immunosuppression, cost and patient adherence continue to be the primary concerns hindering its broader acceptance.
View details for DOI 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000147
View details for PubMedID 24740026