Islet Cell Transplant Recovery – Short Term And Long Term Tips

Islet cell transplant recovery depends on careful and rigorous post procedural care. This is because after an islet cell transplant, there is a risk of the body rejecting the newly transplanted cells. In addition to this, the introduction of ‘foreign’ substances into the body can leave a patient vulnerable to infections. Rigorous care and monitoring are required for ideal islet cell transplant recovery.

Islet Cell Transplant Recovery

Proper hygiene is essential for islet cell transplant recovery

Short Term Tips For Islet Cell Transplant Recovery 

Although the islet cell procedure takes only around an hour, you would be required to stay at the hospital for several days after the procedure. Keeping the following points in mind will help you during this time.

  • Regularized Insulin Intake: Islet cell transplant recovery involves taking insulin the first few weeks after the surgery. These levels will be much lower than your pre-procedure insulin intake and will keep fluctuating. You will be required to be in constant touch with your doctors and transplant team.
  • Constant Blood Sugar Tests: Your blood sugar levels will be constantly monitored – in fact several times a day initially – and this is a vital part of post procedural care. The transplanted islet cells will take time to supply their full quota of insulin. Keeping your blood sugar levels within the accepted range will ensure that the newly transplanted islet cells are not pushed or overworked until the engraftment is completed and they are ready to start producing optimum levels of insulin. The transplant team will require you to keep a daily track of your blood sugar.
  • Pre-planned Healthy Diet: Islet cell transplant recovery also involves following a careful diet and healthy living practices. This will make your body more efficient and will increase the probability of the transplanted islet cells settling down.
  • Regular Immunosuppressant Medication: Transplantation carries with it the risk of rejection. You’ll need to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of your life. Immunosuppressant drugs carry their own risks. You will be educated on how and when to take your drugs and how to spot any side effects. It is essential to take the drugs carefully, because the situation might get very risky once your body starts rejecting the transplanted cells.

You will also need to meet your physician regularly – at least once a week. In fact, this constant monitoring and adjustment of the medication and insulin levels form a very critical part of the islet cell transplant recovery process.

A landmark study known as the Edmond Protocol reported that side effects that result from the immunosuppressant drugs and the complications arising from the procedure are much more serious than originally estimated.

The need for better immunosuppressant drugs as well as vigorous and constant aftercare was seen as one way to overcome the problems associated with islet cell transplant recovery.

Long Term Tips For Islet Cell Transplant Recovery

After an islet cell transplant, your body will have a lower ability to fight infections and diseases. This is because the immunosuppressant drugs reduce your body’s ability to fight against foreign substances. During the islet cell transplant recovery phase, you will be vulnerable to infections. While infections can be treated, you can avoid them by taking the following precautions:

(i)      Be extremely cautious about your daily hygiene.

(ii)    Avoid going to areas where the chances of infection are high, e.g. hospitals.

(iii)   Follow safe sex practices.

Immunosuppressant drugs can have toxic side effects. You’d have to watch out for these side effects and take the necessary care to reduce their impact. Ask your doctor about the side effects that the prescribed drugs can cause and educate yourself on how to cope with them. You should also go in for cancer prevention check-ups on a regular basis.

An islet cell transplant would involve undergoing several tests over the years to see how your body is responding to the immunosuppressant drugs. Be mentally and physically prepared to undergo these tests.

Statistics indicate that while 40 per cent of patients remain insulin free for a year after the surgery, this figure drops to 10 per cent in five years. This means that you might be back on an insulin regimen for diabetes treatment even after the surgery. Good aftercare can help you go insulin free for a longer time period after the islet cell transplant recovery phase.

The Actual Islet Cell Transplant Procedure – A Step By Step Look

Medical science has taken a leap forward with the advances made in diabetes treatment through the islet cell transplant procedure.

The procedure is experimental and rare, but the success rates have kept researchers enthused enough to try and fine tune the process. Islet cell transplantation is done on Type I diabetes patients. Read more about diabetes surgery risks.

Why Is An Islet Cell Transplant Helpful?

Type I diabetes occurs because the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans fail to produce insulin resulting in high blood sugar levels or diabetes. Treatment for diabetes through islet cell transplantation involves removing islet cells from the donor and infusing them into the recipient’s body. Once transplanted, they will start producing insulin, stabilizing blood sugar levels in the patient. So, for whom is an islet cell transplant suggested? This article on diabetes diagnosis will help you understand whom islet cell transplantation is actually recommended for.

The Steps Involved In An Islet Cell Transplant

islet cell transplant

Beta cells are harvested for the islet cell transplant procedure

As with all medical procedures and surgeries, some basic preparation would be required before you actually head into surgery. Pre diabetes treatment becomes all the more important considering the risky nature of the islet cell transplantation surgery.

Step #1: Beta cells are harvested in the donor’s pancreas

The first step in an islet cell transplant involves identifying, isolating, and removing the beta cells from the pancreas of the deceased donor. This is not as simple as it sounds as beta cells are rather rare. They account for just 1% of all cells in the pancreas.

Most of the remaining pancreatic cells are involved in the digestive process and only the beta cells produce insulin. In addition to this, the harvesting process may itself damage and destroy a few cells.

Beta cells are obtained using the following procedure:

  • The process of isolating the beta cells is started by injecting a mixture of purified enzymes called collagenase into the donor pancreas. This enzyme, which is injected into the pancreatic duct, will cause the organ to distend.
  • Once the pancreas expands, it is cut up and removed.
  • The pancreas is then placed in a Ricordi chamber, an equipment which is a novel digestive chamber. When digestion takes place, the islet cells are liberated.
  • These islet cells are then removed from the surrounding tissues by a process known as purification.

Step #2: Enough donor cells are collected

As stated earlier, beta cells are rather rare. The recipient requires 10,000 islets to correspond to each kilogram of his/her body weight. Sometimes, it may not be possible to get this from one donor pancreas. Therefore, two or more donor organs will have to be harvested to get enough cells for the islet cell transplant procedure.

Step #3: Donor cells are transplanted to the recipient

The process lasts for around an hour and general anesthesia or local anesthesia will be used as per the doctor’s assessment. The patient should be prepared to undergo a repeated transfusion if needed. This is done a few days after the first procedure.

The actual transplant process is as follows:

  • The process is not very invasive as it involves the transplant of cells.
    A radiologist will place a catheter via the upper abdomen into the portal vein of the liver. The portal vein is a large blood vessel that goes to the liver.
  • The islets are the infused slowly into the liver via the catheter. The islets are infused into the recipient’s liver and not the pancreas as the liver is comparatively more accessible. The liver’s accessibility makes the procedure much easier.
  • The injected islet cells are taken up via the small blood vessels into the liver. Once they settle down in the liver, the transplantation is completed.
  • In cases where local anesthesia cannot be used due to allergic reactions, a surgeon will make a small incision in the upper abdominal area and complete the rest of the steps involved in the transplantation.

What Happens After An Islet Cell Transplant?

Here’s a quick look at how the transplantation actually works:

  • The transplanted islets will take some time to settle down and attach themselves to the new blood vessels. Once this is done, they will start producing insulin. This means that the recipient will no longer be a Type 1 diabetic.
  • However, it does take some time for the islets to turn fully functional. New blood vessel growth will also take time. During this time, blood sugar levels will be constantly monitored and insulin doses will be given.

Islet cell transplantation does have a good success rate for the first year following the procedure.

Studies indicate that 40 per cent of diabetic patients who underwent the pancreatic transplant procedure for diabetes were insulin-free for one year. But after three years, only 17% of the patients were insulin free. This figure further drops to 10% after five years. Therefore, the islet cell transplant procedure cannot be regarded as a cure for Type 1 diabetes yet.

Pre Diabetes Treatment – Seven Tips To Prepare For Islet Cell Transplant

Once a pancreatic transplant has been advised following a diabetes diagnosis, the patient needs to be prepped mentally and physically for the diabetes treatment procedure. This stage is called the pre diabetes treatment stage.

What You Should Know During The Pre Diabetes Treatment Phase

Also known as an islet cell transplant, the procedure involves transplanting islets from the donor to the recipient who suffers from Type 1 diabetes.

The procedure, which is still in its experimental stages, takes about an hour. Pre diabetes surgery precautions must therefore be taken as there are a number of diabetes surgery risks involved.

During pre diabetes treatment, a surgeon will apprise you of the procedure as well as the impact that the introduction of donor islets can have on your body.

Seven Pre Diabetes Treatment Precautions That Can Help

(i) Select The Right Hospital

Islet cell transplant is a rare procedure, and for this reason, one of the pre diabetes treatment precautions would be to select the right hospital to undergo the procedure. There are only around 17 hospitals that carry out islet cell transplants in the United States.

Pre Diabetes Treatment

Choosing the right hospital during the pre diabetes treatment stage is very important

If you are mentally prepared to undergo the transplant, be sure to get it done in one of these major centers. They will have the staff expertise as well as the infrastructure to not just do the procedure but to deal with any crisis or complication that may result from it. An islet transplant might leave you with long term medical needs that only a major medical center can handle.

(ii) Check If You Fit The Profile

Ensure that you fit the profile of islet cell transplant recipients. The normal profile is that of an individual who lies in the age group of 18 to 65 years.

You should have been suffering from Type 1 diabetes for a period of at least five years and the disease should have created health complications, resulting in damage to other organs like the kidneys or the eyes. Since the surgery is still experimental, it is recommended only when diabetes-related complications have created a life threatening condition.

(iii) Prepare Yourself Mentally

There is a long list of risks involved with an islet cell transplant. Be prepared to be on immunosuppressant medication for the rest of your life.

This is because the newly introduced donor islets may be rejected by your body’s auto-immune system as foreign substances. Having immunosuppressant medication has its own set of risks, involving health problems like kidney failure. The surgery may also result in liver dysfunction or damage near the liver area.

Pre diabetes treatment precautions involve coming to terms with these risks mentally. If necessary, you can speak to a counselor regarding your fears.

(iv) Don’t Expect A Miracle Cure

You should understand that islet cell transplant is not yet regarded as a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The success rate has been good, with a substantial percentage of patients remaining insulin free for almost a year. However, as time passes, the insulin dependency of the recipients does increase.

(v) Know The Pre Diabetes Surgery Physical Procedures 

Before the surgery, the doctor will order a series of blood tests. There will also be several physical tests conducted to get an update on your health status.

These will ascertain the degree of diabetic complications that you have, including damage to the kidneys.

(vi) Start Taking Precautions A Week Before The Surgery 

Get your health insurance paperwork done and ensure that everything is in order. Follow all the instructions given by your surgeon.

These are aimed at helping you prepare mentally and physically for the surgery. If the surgeon decides to give you general anesthesia, there will be a meeting scheduled with your anesthesiologist where you will be briefed on the procedure involved.

(vii) Remember Your Checklist On The Day Of The Surgery

  • Come prepared for a 3-4 day hospital stay.
  • You have to report to the pre-operative unit, which will prepare you for the surgery.
  • Once your case has been reviewed and all the paperwork completed, you will shifted to the holding area. The anesthesia and medications required will be given at this stage.
  • Soon after, you will be moved to the operation theater for the procedure. 

Islet cell transplant is a risky procedure. In addition to this, there is not much clarity regarding its long term impact and success rate. It is therefore essential to be mentally and physically prepared prior to the procedure, and following the pre diabetes treatment measure will surely help.

Diabetes Diagnosis And More – Do You Need An Islet Cell Transplant?

Timely diabetes diagnosis is necessary for properly managing the condition. Diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused due to high blood sugar levels, and the problem creeps up either due to lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Depending on the outcome of the diagnosis, the doctor may suggest a pancreatic transplant.

A Look At What’s Involved In Diabetes Diagnosis

Diabetes diagnosis is done through a series of tests and these include fasting blood glucose tests, random blood glucose tests, and oral glucose tolerance tests.

  • The fasting blood glucose test involves checking the individual’s blood after making him fast for a period of 12 to 14 hours.
  • In the random blood glucose test, the person’s blood is checked at regular intervals and there is no fasting involved.
  • Oral glucose tolerance is also a part of diabetes diagnosis tests. Blood tests are conducted at regular intervals after the patient consumes high glucose drinks.

Diabetes symptoms diagnosis can be done immediately after the fasting blood glucose test. If the test indicates that the level of glucose in the person’s blood is higher than normal post-fasting, it can be confirmed that the person is diabetic.

Diabetes Diagnosis

Blood glucose tests are used for diabetes diagnosis

Types Of Diabetes And Their Causes

Diabetes can be classified as Type 1 and Type 2. Here’s a quick look into their causes:

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • It occurs because the body fails to recognize the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans. The beta cells produce insulin that helps regulate glucose levels in the blood.
  • The body’s auto-immune system kicks in and destroys these cells after classifying them as a foreign substance.
  • Abnormal antibodies, which are part of the body’s immune system, have been found in the bodies of patients with Type 1 diabetes.
  • These antibodies include anti-islet and anti-insulin antibodies.
  • This auto-immune response can be triggered off by viruses, including the mumps virus as well as the Coxsackie virus. Environmental factors like exposure to toxins and diets may also be a reason for the auto-immune response that destroys islet cells.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • It occurs because the body becomes insensitive to the insulin produced by the body. It is also caused by decline in the insulin produced by the beta cells in the pancreas.
  • It is mostly seen in older people, though change in lifestyle, diets and increasing obesity has resulted in rising incidence among teens and young adults.
  • It is caused due to obesity and genetic factors. It is also more common among certain ethnic groups.

An islet cell transplant is mainly recommended for patients who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes. This is because this type of diabetes is caused by the destruction of the beta cells that produce insulin.

Will You Need An Islet Cell Transplant After Diabetes Diagnosis?

Generally, islet cell transplant is recommended for people who fit the following profile:

  • Have been suffering from Type 1 diabetes for more than five years.
  • Are at risk due to diabetes-related complications like frequent unconscious spells or the onset of kidney failure.
  • Fall under the age group of 18 to 65 years.

Though islet cell transplant provides hope to patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes, the therapy is still in its experimental stages. Yet another problem with islet cell transplant is the lack of donors, which has led to a shortage of islet cells.

Once your diabetes diagnosis is done, your physician will ultimately be able to take a call on the right form of diabetes treatment to adopt. Various diabetes surgery risks need to be considered while deciding whether you need an islet cell transplant.

Diabetes Surgery Risks – What to Watch Out For During Islet Cell Transplants

Diabetes surgery risks are definitely a point to consider while taking up the islet cell transplant procedure for diabetes treatment. Every surgical procedure comes with certain levels of risk, and the same is the case with islet cell transplants.

Islet cell transplants have brought hope to all those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes. This kind of diabetes is caused when the body’s auto-immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans. The beta cells produce insulin and when they are destroyed, insulin production in the body grinds to a halt.

After the diabetes diagnosis is confirmed and surgery is decided upon as the necessary treatment option, the patient is prepped physically and mentally as part of pre diabetes treatment. The islet cell transplant procedure itself involves the introduction of islet cells from a donor pancreas into a Type 1 diabetic patient. These donor cells will then start producing insulin and stabilize the blood sugar levels in the diabetic patient. However the diabetes surgery risks are considerable.

Diabetes Surgery Risks

Due to the effects of immunosuppressant medication, hypertension is one of the diabetes surgery risks

A Look at Some Diabetes Surgery Risks

Here’s a quick look at the dangers involved in the pancreatic transplant procedure. Continue reading

Diabetes Treatment Through Islet Cell Transplant

Diabetes treatment has benefited enormously from research on islet cell transplantation. Islet cells are cells that are present in the pancreas. They are present as clusters and are more commonly known as islets of Langerhans. A particular type of islet cell, known as the beta cell, is responsible for the creation of insulin in the body.

Islet Cells and Diabetes Treatment

When your islet cells are destroyed or do not function properly, the insulin levels in your body tend to fall and get affected, leading to high blood sugar levels, causing diabetes. Once the diabetes diagnosis has confirmed a case of high blood sugar, treatment normally involves taking insulin doses at regular intervals. But the advent of the islet cell transplant procedure has given a new direction to patients suffering from insulin related problems.

Diabetes Treatment - Islet Cell Transplant

Islet cells help in the production of insulin and hence contribute towards diabetes treatment

Who Benefits From Islet Cell Transplants?

Diabetes Patients

Types of Diabetes: Diabetes treatment has conventionally involved attempts to control high blood sugar levels using medicines, exercises and diet. There are two kinds of diabetes. Type-1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin and it is seen more often in children and young adults. Type-2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin that it produces effectively and this is normally seen in older people.

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Pancreatic Transplant – An Introduction to Islet Cell Transplant

A pancreatic transplant, as the name suggests, is a surgical procedure that involves the pancreas, which is a major organ in the human framework that is singlehandedly responsible for a clear and healthy digestive system. Approximately as big as a human palm, it is positioned towards the latter part of the lower abdomen.

Pancreatic Transplant Basics – The Functions of the Pancreas

The main function of the pancreas lies in producing insulin along with selected enzymes, which in turn aids the process of disintegration and digestion of our food intakes. It comprises of a huge number of cells including beta cells, all of which go on to produce good quantities of insulin.

Pancreatic Transplant

During a pancreatic transplant, islet cells from a donor’s pancreas are moved to the recipient’s system

Insulin and the Need for a Pancreatic Transplant

Insulin helps in using the body glucose for energy and diabetes is the common consequence when this creation of sufficient glucose does not come through, as a result of increasing levels of glucose in the blood. A pancreatic transplant, also called an islet cell transplant, is performed in order to solve this issue. Here is a look at what’s involved in the procedure.

  • Important islets are collected from outside pancreatic sources (that usually comes in the form of a donor).
  • A high level internal process is carried out for purifying and then processing these grouped islets so that they are conducive to be injected into a patient’s system (one who is suffering from diabetes).
  • Research is on towards making this complex methodology an easy and universally affordable one in order to do away with the costly injections of insulin.
  • Depending on the patient’s body weight, it is decided whether a single pancreas will suffice to rid him from the painful rigors of insulin consumption.

These intricate cells (contained islets) then produce and release insulin within the body to counter the effects of diabetes. Islets are secured from any available donor’s pancreas, and they generally come from the bodies of deceased individuals. Being extremely sensitive and delicate in nature, they need to be transplanted immediately. In some cases, patients might have to take up a double pancreatic transplant, with samples taken from two different pancreases.

In every instance, a discussion of the diabetes surgery risks involved and pre diabetes treatment are essential before undergoing the surgery.

Why You Should Opt for Expert Surgeons

This intricate system of an islet cell transplant can be carried out successfully through the responsible supervision of a seasoned radiologist. A professional surgeon will use a combination of extreme X-Rays along with modern ultrasound technology to place a catheter (a small plastic tube like entry) into the upper abdominal area.

It can also be directly injected into portal veins that are highly sensitive, reaching the internal sections of the liver. Once the islets have been transfused slowly, the patient will be put on strong sedatives and local anesthesia in order to counter the pains.

This is quite a complex process where chances of a smooth pancreatic transplant depend on the expertise of the presiding surgeons. After this procedure, patients are advised to continue taking insulin before the surgeon is sure that the islets are fully functional.

The Long Term Effects of a Pancreatic Transplant

A pancreatic transplant needs to be successful and self sufficient to take care of the deficiency in a patient’s system. As an added benefit, the patient will also be guarded from the dangers erupting from a state of hypoglycemia with an improved control over glucose.

On a large scale, chances of contracting heart and kidney diseases, pressure fluctuations and damages to the eye and nerves can be ruled out with a smooth pancreatic transplant. The flip side however, shows in the gamut of dangers that come as the by-products of the transplant procedure.

It is necessary to take proper islet cell transplant recovery measures after undergoing surgical diabetes treatment. Excessive bleeding and clotting of blood are some of the commonly reported side effects of a pancreatic transplant. Certain drugs and immunosuppressant medication will be prescribed in some cases in order to combat these problems. You can talk to your physician in order to check whether you qualify for the pancreatic transplant procedure and get a professional brief outlining the risks and benefits from him.