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Intestinal Transplant Surgery: Preparation and Procedure

When an organ becomes available, your transplant coordinator will call you to come to the hospital as soon as possible.

When we call you to come for intestinal transplant surgery:

  • Do not eat or drink.
  • Bring your driving map and directions to UPMC Presbyterian.
  • Make sure you have all of your medicines and that your caregivers and family members have theirs too.
  • Pack your cell phone and charger.
  • Report to the area of the hospital your coordinator specified.

If you need to reach us in an emergency, call the Abdominal Transplant Coordinator at 412-647-5800.

Preparing for Intestinal Transplant Surgery

When you arrive at UPMC, we will admit you to the transplant unit where you will prepare for intestinal transplant surgery.

The donor team will inspect the organ to make sure that it's a good match for you.

You will meet with the anesthesiologist who will review the tubes and lines you will receive during your transplant. Once the operating room is ready, you will receive anesthesia and sleep through the intestinal transplant surgery.

How Long Does Intestinal Transplant Surgery Take?

The length of surgery varies depending on what type of intestinal transplant you're having. The types of intestinal transplant include small bowel transplant, multivisceral transplant, and combined liver and intestinal transplant.

Small Bowel Transplant: The surgery should take 8 hours.

Multivisceral Transplant: The surgery should take 12 hours or more. 

What Happens During Intestinal Transplant Surgery?

Small Bowel Transplant: Surgeons remove part of the diseased small intestine and replace it with a healthy one. 

Combined Liver and Intestine Transplant: Surgeons remove the diseased liver and intestine and replace them with healthy organs.

How Long Will I Be in the Hospital After My Intestinal Transplant?

After surgery, we will take you to our transplant intensive care unit (ICU). Most people spend about 1 to 4 days in the ICU.

You will start taking anti-rejection medicines right away.

When your body detects something new, your immune system begins working to fight what it views as a threat. Anti-rejection medicines suppress your immune system's natural response to allow your body to accept the new intestine or liver.

You will also have a feeding tube in place to transition you to a regular diet.

While in the ICU, the intestinal transplant team will:

  • Keep a close watch on your condition.
  • Wean you off the ventilator.
  • Monitor you for infection or organ rejection.
  • Adjust your anti-rejection medicines.

Once stable, you will move to a patient room on the transplant floor.

You should expect to spend 3 to 4 weeks in the hospital after intestinal transplant surgery.

During this time, nutrition specialists will work with you to reduce total parenteral nutrition (TPN) until you're free of it.

Before we discharge you, we will give you a detailed diet plan and medicine schedule to follow when you get home. Be sure that you and your caregiver fully understand these instructions before you leave the hospital.

Your care team is here to help you throughout the entire transplant process, so feel free to ask any questions.