China Focus: Breakthrough laryngeal allotransplantation offers hope to patients in China-Xinhua

China Focus: Breakthrough laryngeal allotransplantation offers hope to patients in China

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-06-06 11:13:00

Doctors perform a laryngeal allotransplantation surgery at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 29, 2023. (West China Hospital of Sichuan University/Handout via Xinhua)

CHENGDU, June 6 (Xinhua) -- The West China Hospital of Sichuan University announced Monday that the hospital's medical team had recently successfully performed a laryngeal allotransplantation for a patient with cancer recurrence.

The success of this operation provides a revolutionary solution for patients who have experienced larynx loss due to conditions such as advanced laryngeal malignant tumors, it said.

The 65-year-old patient, surnamed Zhou, was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer nine years ago and underwent a partial laryngectomy at that time, said Chen Fei, a professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University.

Despite the initial surgery, the cancer unfortunately recurred, necessitating a total laryngectomy. However, such a procedure would severely impact the patients' quality of life as it would eliminate their ability to breathe orally, Chen said.

The expert explained that traditionally, patients in similar situations could only communicate through the use of artificial or electronic devices. With the progress of medical technology, however, laryngeal transplantation technology has brought renewed hope to patients who have lost their larynx.

By transplanting healthy larynx and trachea, the patient's vocal function can be partly preserved, which can significantly improve their quality of life, Chen said.

Following the patient's and his family's consent, Chen made the decision to proceed with a combined laryngeal-tracheal-thyroid transplant for the patient.

"Laryngeal allotransplantation is a highly intricate surgery, distinct from more established organ transplantations such as liver, kidney, heart and lung, requiring the collaborative efforts of multidisciplinary teams," Chen said, adding that successful cases of laryngeal allotransplantation remain rare globally, underscoring the pioneering nature of the surgery.

Once a suitable donor was identified, Chen's team promptly admitted the patient to the hospital. After thorough preparations, the surgery was conducted on April 29.

The operation, lasting nine hours, involved intricate anastomosis of six blood vessels and four nerves. Through exceptional surgical skills and seamless coordination with the anesthesia and nursing teams, the surgical team effectively minimized the laryngeal ischemia time, significantly enhancing the success rate of the transplantation.

The hospital said that the patient's condition is currently stable, with positive signs of recovery. He can now breathe orally, and speak and engage in basic communication with others.

However, proper rehabilitation training will be necessary during the follow-up period. It is estimated that it will take about three to six months for the patient's swallowing, breathing, and articulation functions to fully recover to the optimal state, it said.