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Clinical Investigations: TRANSPLANTS |

Ventilatory and Diffusion Abnormalities in Long-term Survivors After Orthotopic Heart Transplantation*

Ralf Ewert, MD; Roland Wensel, MD; Martin Bettmann, MD; Susanne Spiegelsberger, MD; Onnen Grauhan, MD; Manfred Hummel, MD; Roland Hetzer, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From Deutsches Herzzentrum, Berlin, Germany.

Correspondence to: Ralf Ewert, MD, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany



Chest. 1999;115(5):1305-1311. doi:10.1378/chest.115.5.1305
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Objective: To investigate the long-term development of pulmonary diffusion abnormalities after orthotopic heart transplantation (oHT).

Design: Retrospective analysis of pulmonary function test results of different patient groups at different time intervals after oHT was performed.

Patients: This investigation included 642 patients who had undergone oHT for chronic heart failure. Patients were grouped according to the time elapsed after transplantation (group 1: n = 164; age, 47 ± 14 years; days after oHT, 324 ± 101; group 2: n = 100; age, 48 ± 15 years; days after oHT, 723 ± 104; group 3: n = 106; age, 52 ± 12 years; days after oHT, 1,092 ± 98; group 4: n = 84; age, 51 ± 13 years; days after oHT, 1,442 ± 99; group 5: n = 61; age, 50 ± 14 years; days after oHT, 1,819 ± 105; group 6: n = 101; age, 53 ± 12 years; days after oHT, 2,463 ± 303; and group 7: n = 26; age, 54 ± 14 years; days after oHT, 3,478 ± 246). In 56 (group 8) of the 642 patients, follow-up measurements were performed with tests before and at two time points after oHT (6.5 ± 1.7 and 12.5 ± 9.3 months).

Results: Of all patients, 39% showed restrictive and obstructive abnormalities with no differences between the groups. No significant differences in lung transfer factor for carbon monoxide (Dlco) were observed (61.2 vs 63.7 vs 65.5 vs 65.6 vs 64.5 vs 65.7 vs 67.6% predicted). Differences in transfer coefficient for carbon monoxide (Kco) were significant between group 1 and 4 (58.7 vs 64.1% predicted), and group 1 and 6 (58.7 vs 63.4% predicted). No differences occurred in the rate with which patients exhibited pathologic abnormalities for Dlco and Kco. After oHT, a marked reduction in diffusion capacity occurred in group 8. On follow-up, these measurements were only slightly restored in terms of the predicted Dlco percentage. No such improvement was observed in Kco or in the rate of pathologic changes for both Dlco and Kco. We conclude, therefore, that the impairment of diffusion does not improve even after a significant period has passed after the oHT. Whether this has any effect on symptoms and/or the prognosis for these patients is extremely unclear.

Abbreviations: ANOVA = analysis of variance; CHF = chronic heart failure; CO = carbon monoxide; Dlco = lung transfer factor for carbon monoxide; hCMV = human cytomegalovirus; Kco = transfer coefficient for carbon monoxide; oHT = orthotopic heart transplantation; RV = residual volume; TLC = total lung capacity; VC = vital capacity

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