Background: From 1996 to 2000, Diefenbeck et al. carried out six knee vascularized composite allotransplants. The allotransplants were composed of bone, soft tissue, and femoral vascular pedicle (25 to 40 cm). All rejected between 14 and 56 months. Failures were attributed to chronic rejection. In 2008, the Louisville team lost their fourth patient's hand transplant at 8 months. During the rejection workup, intraoperative findings noted a thickened arterial pedicle attributed to intimal hyperplasia with significant fibrotic perivascular tissue and a near "no-flow phenomenon." No cutaneous rejection was appreciated and failure was attributed to chronic rejection. Methods: Data were collected from two teams, one in Germany and the other in Louisville, Kentucky. The population under study consisted of the six knee and one hand transplants. The factor of interest was the long donor arterial pedicle. The outcome measurements were transplant survival time and histopathologic results. Results: There are only seven published vascularized composite allotransplant cases where a donor artery longer than 25 cm was used. This cohort represents a 100 percent accelerated failure rate. The cause of these losses remains unexplained. The donor arteries suffered from T-cell-mediated rejection and ischemia-induced media/adventitial necrosis. Conclusions: We hypothesize that the donor artery rejected at an accelerated rate because of ischemia caused by disruption of the external vasa vasorum in conjunction with intimal hyperplasia induced by T-cell-mediated rejection that led to disruption of the Windkessel effect. Loss of this effect presented as intimal hyperplasia accelerated by ischemia causing an expedited transplant failure. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, V.
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