Contact Us
Plans and Services Health and Wellness About Wellmark Member Employer Producer Provider
Home Provider Medical Policies and Authorizations Alphabetical Listing

» Working with
» News
» BlueCard®
» Claims and Payment
» Medical Policies and Authorizations
» Health Management
» Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy
» Credentialing and Contracting
» Quality and Transparency
» Communications and Resources
» Health Care Reform for Providers
printer friendly Printer-Friendly Page

Small Bowel/Liver and Multivisceral Transplant*

» Summary» Procedure Codes
» Description» Selected References
» Prior Approval» Policy History
» Policy

Medical Policy: 07.03.05 
Original Effective Date: November 2009 
Reviewed: December 2014 
Revised: December 2014 

Benefit Application
Benefit determinations are based on the applicable contract language in effect at the time the services were rendered. Exclusions, limitations or exceptions may apply. Benefits may vary based on contract, and individual member benefits must be verified. Wellmark determines medical necessity only if the benefit exists and no contract exclusions are applicable. This medical policy may not apply to FEP. Benefits are determined by the Federal Employee Program.

This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.


Combined Small Bowel and Liver Transplant
Combined small bowel and liver transplant is generally indicated when intestinal failure is accompanied by irreversible liver failure, usually due to total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

Intestinal failure is defined as the loss of absorptive capacity of the small bowel secondary to primary gastrointestinal disease or surgically induced short bowel syndrome.


Short bowel syndrome is defined as an inadequate absorbing surface of the small intestine due to extensive disease or surgical removal of a large portion of small intestine.  Small bowel syndrome is the most common cause of intestinal failure leading to transplantation.


Leading causes of intestinal failure differ between adult and pediatric populations. In children, the following are the leading causes of intestinal failure:

  • Intestinal atresia
  • Gastroschisis
  • Crohn disease
  • Microvillus involution disease
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Midgut volvulus
  • Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Massive resection secondary to tumor
  • Hirschsprung disease 

The following are the leading causes of intestinal failure in adults:

  • Crohn disease
  • Superior mesenteric artery thrombosis
  • Superior mesenteric vein thrombosis
  • Trauma
  • Desmoid tumor
  • Volvulus
  • Pseudo-obstruction
  • Massive resection secondary to tumor
  • Radiation enteritis 

Small bowel and liver transplant is generally indicated when intestinal failure is accompanied by liver failure, usually due to parenteral nutrition.


The chronic use of TPN is often associated with life-threatening complication including:

  • Catheter related sepsis
  • Catheter related thrombosis
  • Severe dehydration
  • Parenteral nutrition associated liver disease (PNALD) 

Multivisceral Transplant
Multivisceral transplant is generally indicated when intestinal failure is accompanied by liver failure, usually due to complications of long term total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Small bowel syndrome is a common cause of the intestinal failure. In addition, the patient usually has a history surgery, abdominal trauma, motility disorders, tumor or other etiologies that warrant the multivisceral transplant. The multivisceral transplant can include the liver, stomach, small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum), pancreas and/or colon. Kidney transplant may also be included if the recipient has end stage renal failure. 


The most common causes of graft loss may include acute and chronic rejection,
post- transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, graft dysmotility or dysfunction, severe infection, arterial graft aneurysm or allograft liver failure. Careful patient selection,
post-transplant immunosuppression and patient management are essential for successful long-term outcomes. Individuals undergoing retransplantgation for small bowel and liver or multivisceral transplantation should meet all of the eligibility criteria for primary transplantation and should not have contraindications to transplantation.  


Practice Guideline and Position Statement
In 2003, the American Gastroenterological Association produced a medical position statement on short bowel syndrome and intestinal transplantation. It recommends dietary, medical and surgical solutions. Indications for intestinal transplant mirror those of Medicare in patients who fail TPN therapy for one of the following reasons:

  • Impending or overt liver failure as evidence by elevated serum bilirubin and/or liver enzymes, splenomegaly, thrombocytopenia, gastroesophageal varices, coagulopathy, stomal bleeding or hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis
  • Thromobosis of major central venous channels (2 thromboses in subclavian, jugular or femoral veins) 
  • Frequent central line related sepsis (2 episodes of systemic sepsis secondary to line infection per year, 1 episode of line related fungemia, septic shock or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS))
  • Frequent severe dehydration

Until better data become available, these parameters are likely to be widely recognized as the indications for intestinal transplantation.


Prior Approval: 


Prior approval is required. Submit a prior approval now.



A small bowel and liver transplant may be considered medically necessary for pediatric and adult patients with intestinal failure (characterized by loss of absorption and the inability to maintain protein-energy, fluid, electrolyte, or micronutrient balance) who have been managed with long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and who have developed evidence of impending end-stage liver failure.


A multivisceral transplant may be considered medically necessary for pediatric and adult patients who meet criteria above for the combined small bowel and liver transplant and require 1 or more abdominal visceral organs to be transplanted due to concomitant organ failure or anatomical abnormalities that preclude a small bowel and liver transplant.


A small bowel and liver retransplant or multivisceral retransplant may be considered medically necessary after failed primary small bowel and liver transplant or multivisceral transplant provided the individual meets the transplant criteria. 


Except as defined above, candidates for small bowel and liver or multivisceral transplants should meet the following general criteria:

  • Adequate cardiopulmonary status
  • Absence of active infection
  • Documentation of patient compliance with medical management 

The evaluation of a transplant candidate who has a history of cancer must consider the prognosis and risk of recurrence from available information including tumor type and stage, response to therapy, and time since therapy was completed. Although evidence is limited, patients in whom cancer is thought to be cured should not be excluded from consideration for transplant. UNOS has not addressed malignancy in current policies.


There is minimal data regarding long-term outcomes of liver transplantation in HIV-positive patients. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) believes that asymptomatic HIV-positive patients should not necessarily be excluded for candidacy for organ transplantation, stating, “A potential candidate for organ transplantation whose test for HIV is positive but who is in an asymptomatic state should not necessarily be excluded from candidacy for organ transplantation, but should be advised that he or she may be at increased risk of morbidity and mortality because of immunosuppressive therapy.” In 2001, the Clinical Practice Committee of the American Society of Transplantation proposed that the presence of AIDS could be considered a contraindication to kidney transplant unless the following criteria were present. These criteria may be extrapolated to other potential organ transplants:

  • CD4 count ≥ 200 cells/mm-3 for > 6 months
  • HIV-1 RNA undetectable
  • On stable anti-retroviral therapy > 3 months
  • No other complications from AIDS (e.g., opportunistic infection including aspergillus, tuberculosis, coccidioses mycosis, resistant fungal infections, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or other neoplasm)
  • Meeting all other criteria for organ transplantation 

It is likely that each individual transplant center will have explicit patient selection criteria for HIV-positive patients.


Procedure Codes and Billing Guidelines: 

  • To report provider services, use appropriate CPT* codes, Modifiers, Alpha Numeric (HCPCS level 2) codes, Revenue codes, and/or diagnosis codes.
  • 44135 Intestinal allotransplantation; from cadaver donor
  • 47135 Liver allotransplantation; orthotopic, partial or whole, from cadaver or living donor, any age
  • 47136 Liver allotransplantation; heterotopic, partial or whole, from cadaver or living donor, any age
  • S2053 Transplantation of small intestine and liver allografts
  • S2054 Multivisceral transplant


Selected References: 

  • Abu-Elmagd KM. Intestinal transplantation for short bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal failure: current consensus, rewarding outcomes, and practical guidelines. Gastroenterology. 2006 Feb; 130(2 Suppl 1): S132-7.
  • American Gastroenterological Association. American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement: short bowel syndrome and intestinal transplantation. Gastroenterology. 2003 Apr;124(4):1105-10.
  • ECRI Institute. Hotline Response [database online]. Plymouth Meeting (PA): ECRI Institute; 2008 Oct 21. Intestine and Intestine-Liver Transplantation.
  • Kato T, Tzakis AG, Selvaggi G et al. Intestinal and multivisceral transplantation in children. Ann Surg. 2006 Jun;243(6):756-64.
  • Bhagani S, Sweny P, Brook G; British HIV Association. Guidelines for kidney transplantation in patients with HIV disease. HIV Med. 2006; 7(3):133-9.
  • Sudan DL. Treatment of intestinal failure: intestinal transplantation. Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Sep;4(9):503-10.
  • Pironi L, Forbes A, Joly F et al. Survival of patients identified as candidates for intestinal transplantation: a 3-year prospective follow-up. Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;138(1):61-71.
  • Tzvetanov IG, Oberholzer J, Benedetti E. Current status of living donor small bowel transplantation. Curr Opin Organ Transplant. 2010 Jun;15(3):346-8.
  • Gangemi A, Tzvetanov IG, Beatty E et al. Lessons learned in pediatric small bowel and liver transplantation from living-related donors. Transplantation. 2009 Apr 15;87(7):1027-30.
  • Gilroy R., Shapiro R., Intestinal and multivisceral transplantation. Medscape Reference. 2012.May:2 (14)
  • American Gastroenterological Association. Intestinal Transplantation for Gut Failure. June 2003. Volume 124, issue 6, pages 1516-1628.
  • American Society of Transplantation (AST). Facts About Intestinal Transplantation. December 2006.
  • Siego Nishida, M.D., PhD., Pediatric Intestinal and Multivisceral Transplantation. Medscape Reference. May 30, 2012.
  • UpToDate. Overview of Intestinal and Multivisceral Transplantation. Farrukh A. Khan, M.D., FACS, Gennaro Selvaggi, M.D.. Topic last updated October 18, 2012.
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. National Coverage Determination (NCD) for Intestinal and Multi-Visceral Transplantation (260.5). Also available at database
  • Andreas G. Tzakis, M.D., PhD, et. al. 100 Multivisceral Transplants at a Single Center, Ann Surg 2005; 242:480-493
  • Matthew Wheeler, David Mercer, et. al. Department of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Surgical Treatment of Intra-Abdominal Desmoid Tumors Resulting in Short Bowel Syndrome. Cancers 2012, 4, 31-38; doi:10.3390/cancers4010031
  • NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) Guidelines Version 2.2014 Desmoid Tumors (Aggressive Fibromatosis). Also, available at
  • UpToDate. Desmoid Tumors: Systemic Therapy, Vinod Ravi, M.D., Shreyaskumar R. Patel, M.D., Topic last updated April 30, 2013. Also available at
  • UpToDate. Desmoid Tumors: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Molecular Pathogenesis, Clinical Presentation and Local Therapy, Vinod Ravi, M.D., Shreyaskumar R. Patel, M.D., Chandrajit P. Raut, M.D., MSc, FACS, Thomas F. DeLaney, M.D., Topic last updated September 3, 2014. Also available at
  • UpToDate. Overview of Intestinal and Multivisceral Transplantation. Farrukh A. Khan, M.D., FACS, Gennaro Selvaggi, M.D., Topic last updated April 11, 2014. Also available at
  • Siego Nishida, M.D., PhD., Pediatric Intestinal and Multivisceral Transplantation, Medscape Reference. Updated November 13, 2014. Also available at
  • Richard K. Gilroy, MBBS, FRACP, Intestinal and Multivisceral Transplantation, Medscape Reference. Updated April 1, 2014. Also available at http://emedicine/


Policy History: 


Date                                        Reason                              Action

April 2011                              Annual review                   Policy revised

March 2012                           Annual review                   Policy renewed

March 2013                           Annual review                   Policy revised

February 2014                       Annual review                   Policy revised

December 2014                     Annual review                   Policy revised


Wellmark medical policies address the complex issue of technology assessment of new and emerging treatments, devices, drugs, etc.   They are developed to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. Wellmark medical policies contain only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and do not constitute a contract. Wellmark does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Wellmark or its affiliates. Treating providers are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members. Our medical policies may be updated and therefore are subject to change without notice.

*Current Procedural Terminology © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

Contact Information
New information or technology that would be relevant for Wellmark to consider when this policy is next reviewed may be submitted to:
  Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  Medical Policy Analyst
  P.O. Box 9232
  Des Moines, IA 50306-9232
FacebookTwitterInstagrampinterestLinked InYou Tube