Complications in the native lung after single lung transplantation

Venuta, Federico ; Boehler, Annette ; Rendina, Erino A. ; De Giacomo, Tiziano ; Speich, Rudolf ; Schmid, Ralph ; Funo Coloni, Giorgio ; Weder, Walter

In: European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 1999, vol. 16, no. 1, p. 54-58

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    Objectives: Single lung transplantation is a viable option for patients with end-stage pulmonary disease; despite encouraging results, we observed serious complications arising in the native lung. We retrospectively reviewed 36 single lung transplants to evaluate the incidence of complications arising in the native lung, their treatment and outcome. Methods: Between 1991 and 1997, 35 patients received 36 single lung transplants for emphysema (16), pulmonary fibrosis (14), lymphangioleiomyomatosis (4), primary pulmonary hypertension (1) and bronchiolitis obliterans (1). The clinical records were reviewed and the complications related to the native lung were divided into early (up to 6 weeks after the transplant) and late complications. Results: Nineteen complications occurred in 18 patients (50%), leading to death in nine (25%). Early complications (within 6 weeks from the transplant) were bacterial pneumonia (1), overinflation (3), retention of secretions with bronchial obstruction and atelectasis (1), hemothorax (1), pneumothorax (1) and invasive aspergillosis (3); one patient showed active tuberculosis at the time of transplantation. Two patients developed bacterial pneumonia and invasive aspergillosis leading to sepsis and death. The other complications were treated with separate lung ventilation (1), bronchoscopic clearance (1), chest tube drainage (1) and wedge resection and pleurodesis (mechanical) by VATS (1). One patient with hyperinflation of the native lung eventually required pneumonectomy and died of sepsis. The patient with active tuberculosis is alive and well after 9 months of medical treatment. Late complications were recurrent pneumothorax (4), progressive overinflation with functional deterioration (2), aspergillosis (1) and pulmonary nocardiosis (1). Recurrent pneumothorax was treated with chest tube drainage alone (1), thoracoscopic wedge resection and/or pleurodesis (2) and pneumonectomy (1); hyperinflation was treated with thoracoscopic lung volume reduction in both cases; both patients with late infectious complications died. Conclusions: After single lung transplantation, the native lung can be the source of serious problems. Early and late infectious complications generally result in a fatal outcome; the other complications can be successfully treated in most cases, even if surgery is required