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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Serum transferrin as a prognostic indicator of spontaneous closure and mortality in gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas.

OBJECTIVE: This study determined whether there are any laboratory or other features that will enable prediction of spontaneous closure in patients with gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Although the anatomic criteria for spontaneous closure of gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas have been presented by several authors, less than 50% of such fistulas tend to close, even in the most recent series. METHODS: A group of patients with gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas with anatomical features favorable to study were investigated with respect to a series of parameters including the usual demographic parameters, plus fistula output, number of blood transfusions, presence of sepsis, as well as metabolic parameters including serum transferrin, retinol-binding protein, thyroxin-binding prealbumin, and serum albumin. RESULTS: Of 79 patients with 116 fistulas, 16 (20.3%) died. Causes of death were uncontrolled sepsis in eight patients and cancer in five patients. Postoperative fistulas constituted 80% of the group. The presence of local sepsis, systemic sepsis, remote sepsis (such as pneumonia or line sepsis), the number of fistulas, fistula output, and the number of blood transfusions were not predictive of spontaneous closure, whereas serum transferrin was predictive of spontaneous closure. Serum transferrin, retinol-binding protein, and thyroxin-binding prealbumin were predictive of mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Serum transferrin does not appear to be an entirely independent variable, but seems to identify those patients with significant remote sepsis, systemic sepsis, and neoplasia in whom these processes are clinically significant. The results, if confirmed, and provided that nutritional needs are met, suggest that short-turnover proteins, particularly serum transferrin, might be useful in predicting which patients with gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas should undergo surgery despite anatomic criteria favorable for spontaneous closure.[1]


  1. Serum transferrin as a prognostic indicator of spontaneous closure and mortality in gastrointestinal cutaneous fistulas. Kuvshinoff, B.W., Brodish, R.J., McFadden, D.W., Fischer, J.E. Ann. Surg. (1993) [Pubmed]
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