Special Considerations for Secondary Surgery After Upper Extremity Transplantation

Pathik Aravind, Christopher Frost, Vidhi Javia, Damon S. Cooney, Gerald Brandacher, Jaimie T. Shores, Carisa M. Cooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Upper extremity (UE) transplantation is a complex undertaking that may require emergent or elective secondary surgery (SS) days to years following transplant. Various patient and transplantation may help determine what SS is needed. In this study, we characterize the SS needed by our UE transplant patients. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 6 patients who underwent hand and UE transplantation by one of the authors. Transplantation and SS details were obtained from medical records. Hand and arm function was quantified both subjectively (patient-reports) and objectively (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand Score; Carroll test; Action Research Arm Tests; Box and Block test). Results: Six patients underwent transplantation for a total of 10 transplanted limbs. Five transplants were performed below and 5 above the elbow. Mean time post-transplantation at last follow-up was 5 years (range: 1-9 years). In all, 66.7% of the patients required SS: total 7 surgeries comprising 13 procedures. The most common procedures were to improve hand function—nerve decompressions and tendon transfer, both in above-elbow transplant. Both patients showed a mean improvement of 15 points on Carroll scores. One above-elbow transplant had a brachioplasty for excess skin and another had a hematoma evacuation immediately after transplantation. Procedures in the below-elbow transplants included multiple incision and drainages for a septic wrist and an open reduction and internal fixation for a forearm fracture. Conclusion: Patients receiving UE transplantation often require one or more secondary procedures which may vary with level of transplantation. Secondary surgery should be an important aspect of pretransplant planning and cost-effectiveness determinations. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • hand function
  • hand transplant
  • revision surgery
  • secondary surgery
  • upper extremity transplant
  • vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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