Emergency abdominal surgery after solid organ transplantation: a systematic review.


World J Emerg Surg. 2016 Aug 30;11(1):43. doi: 10.1186/s13017-016-0101-6. eCollection 2016.

Emergency abdominal surgery after solid organ transplantation: a systematic review.



Due to the increasing number of solid organs transplantations, emergency abdominal surgery in transplanted patients is becoming a relevant challenge for the general surgeon. The aim of this systematic review of the literature is to analyze morbidity and mortality of emergency abdominal surgery performed in transplanted patients for graft-unrelated surgical problems.


The literature search was performed on online databases with the time limit 1990-2015. Studies describing all types of emergency abdominal surgery in solid organ transplanted patients were retrieved for evaluation.


Thirty-nine case series published between 1996 and 2015 met the inclusion criteria and were selected for the systematic review. Overall, they included 71671 transplanted patients, of which 1761 (2.5 %) underwent emergency abdominal surgery. The transplanted organs were the heart in 65.8 % of patients, the lung in 22.1 %, the kidney in 9.5 %, and the liver in 2.6 %. The mean patients\’ age at the time of the emergency abdominal surgery was 49.4 ± 7.4 years, and the median time from transplantation to emergency surgery was 2.4 years (range 0.1-20). Indications for emergency abdominal surgery were: gallbladder diseases (80.3 %), gastrointestinal perforations (9.2 %), complicated diverticulitis (6.2 %), small bowel obstructions (2 %), and appendicitis (2 %). The overall mortality was 5.5 % (range 0-17.5 %). The morbidity rate varied from 13.6 % for gallbladder diseases to 32.7 % for complicated diverticulitis. Most of the time, the immunosuppressive therapy was maintained unmodified postoperatively.


Emergency abdominal surgery in transplanted patients is not a rare event. Although associated with relevant mortality and morbidity, a prompt and appropriate surgery can lead to satisfactory results if performed taking into account the patient\’s immunosuppression therapy and hemodynamic stability.


Emergency abdominal surgery; General surgery; Heart transplantation; Kidney transplantation; Liver transplantation; Lung transplantation; Solid organ transplantation; Systematic review