The decision was seen as a major boost for the pioneering transplant programme at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which has fought a lengthy battle for public support.
Surgeons there have performed 160 transplants since May 1980. Figures quoted to the US Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) show that 95% of recipients are able to eat a normal diet. 72% survive for one year and 52% for five years.
The new technique of irradiating donor organs had reduced rejection rates. Seven patients have undergone the new procedure and all have done well.
The HCFA ruling says that Medicare will cover patients where nutritional support - total parenteral nutrition - is failing. But more research needs to be done on the benefits for patients where nutritional support has not failed.
Pittsburgh University says that transplants could be cost-effective for a wider range of patients - since total parenteral nutrition costs US$150 000 a year.
Transplants cost-effective against total parenteral nutrition costs of US$150 000 a year.
The HCFA ruling says: "The assessment concludes that small bowel and related transplantation appear to be potentially life-saving options for patients who have failed total parenteral nutrition and would therefore otherwise face certain death."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com