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The Relationship Between Sarcopenia and Intestinal Transplant Outcomes

April 30, 2022

A research team from the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh published findings in the journal Pediatric Transplantation from a study exploring the frequency of sarcopenia in pediatric intestinal transplantation and how the existence of the condition may influence outcomes after transplant.

Instructor of Pediatrics, Vikram K. Raghu, MD, MS, was the study’s lead author. Dr. Raghu is a pediatric transplant hepatologist and member of the Intestinal Care and Rehabilitation Center (ICARE) in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at UPMC Children’s.

Dr. Raghu and colleagues examined cases of intestinal transplantation (IT) performed at UPMC Children’s after 2000 to assess the prevalence of sarcopenia in this patient population and any effects on transplantation outcomes.

Fifty-six cases of IT were analyzed by the study team, and sarcopenia was found to occur in 64% of patients. The presence of sarcopenia had no association with overall survival, and, interestingly, those patients had slightly better graft survival than those without sarcopenia.

“This study represents the first detailed examination of co-existing sarcopenia in pediatric intestinal transplantation patients in which the rate of occurrence was found to affect almost two-thirds of patients,” says Dr. Raghu. “Clinicians should be cognizant of the high incidence rate of sarcopenia in this patient population and proactively screen patients for early intervention. While the presence of sarcopenia did not worsen transplant outcomes, and we did see a small increase in graft survival, the potential loss of muscle mass must be dealt with to avoid downstream complications from the disorder.”

Dr. Raghu and colleagues are continuing their investigations to better understand the mechanistic processes between sarcopenia and the improved graft survival rates they discovered.

Learn more about Dr. Raghu and his research, and UPMC Children’s Intestinal Care and Rehabilitation Center.


Raghu VK, Sico R, Rudolph JA, Mazariegos GV, Squires J, Squires JE. Sarcopenia Prevalence in Pediatric Intestinal Transplant Recipients: Implications on Post-Transplant Outcomes. Pediatr Transplant. 2022 Feb 21; e14256. Online ahead of print.