FRIDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Outcomes for people with transplanted organs who suffer a traumatic injury are no worse than for those without transplanted organs, a new study has found.
In addition, the investigators noted that transplanted organs are rarely damaged when patients suffer traumatic injuries.
For the study, researchers examined the outcomes of 50 people with transplanted organs who were treated for traumatic injury between 2007 and 2011, and compared them to more than 13,000 trauma patients who did not have transplanted organs.
"Trauma teams should be encouraged that patients with prior organ transplants don't do worse after injury, and that the transplanted organ (also known as a graft) is infrequently injured after trauma; however, our study did show that there may be an increased risk of graft rejection after trauma," lead author Dr. Joseph Scalea, a surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said in a center news release.
"We recommend that patients be assessed by a transplant surgeon as soon as possible, and graft function should be closely followed by a transplant team during hospitalization and after discharge from the trauma center," he added.
One patient had a direct injury to a transplanted organ and three others had possible injuries to a transplanted organ that did not affect organ function, according to the study in the June issue of The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
Within six months after their traumatic injury, 17 percent of 41 patients with transplanted organs developed acute organ rejection.
Transplant recipients take drugs to suppress their immune system in order to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ, and it's widely presumed that this puts them at increased risk for infection after traumatic injury. However, that was not the case in this study, the authors pointed out.
Instead, the researchers suggested, immune-suppressing drugs may help protect organs from inflammation after a person suffers traumatic injury.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about trauma care.