Osteocutaneous face transplantation.
BACKGROUND: Facial transplantation has the potential to become a viable option in the treatment of acquired and congenital facial deformities. Transplantation of the bony maxillofacial skeleton with the soft tissues (osteocutaneous face transplantation) has not been performed clinically nor has it been described experimentally in a human cadaver model. METHODS: A mock osteocutaneous face transplant procedure was carried out on a cadaver model. The face was harvested in the subperiosteal plane and included the Le Fort III osseous segment. The allograft was inset by rigid internal fixation and soft tissue approximation. RESULTS: The face transplant procedure was technically feasible. On the basis of this experiment, review of prior investigations, and our experience in craniofacial surgery, the authors have identified 10 topics that present technical challenges specific to osteocutaneous transplantation of the face: customisation of the bony segment, sensory and motor innervation, extra-ocular movements, dentition, mastication, speech and swallowing, airway, vascular considerations, immunologic considerations, and identity issues. CONCLUSIONS: Once further advances in immunomodulatory therapy are made, face transplantation will likely still be reserved for only the most severe facial defects. Defects of such severity will likely include a substantial bony component in need of reconstruction. In addition to the challenges associated with facial allo-transplantation in general, there are many technical challenges associated specifically with osteocutaneous face transplantation. It is necessary to consider and discuss these challenges in anticipation of future advances that may allow composite face transplantation to become safe and clinically efficacious. This modality of transplantation has the potential to provide substantial benefit compared with autologous reconstruction.
Follmar, KE; Baccarani, A; Das, RR; Mukundan, S; Levin, LS; Erdmann, D; Marcus, JR
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