Study objectives: To characterize patients who acquired postoperative respiratory failure after lung transplantation (LT), and to identify risks associated with postoperative respiratory failure and poor surgical outcome.
Study design: Retrospective clinical analysis in a tertiary care transplantation center.
Methods: We reviewed the records of 80 consecutive patients who underwent LT from April 1994 to May 1999, analyzing their records for a number of preoperative and perioperative variables and complications.
Results: Forty-four patients (55%) acquired postoperative respiratory failure and had a mortality rate of 45%. No difference was noted between patients with respiratory failure and those without in terms of age (mean ± SD, 56 ± 9 years vs 53 ± 11 years), gender, baseline pretransplant arterial blood gas analysis (Paco2, 46 ± 9 mm Hg vs 44 ± 10 mm Hg), and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (maximum oxygen uptake, 0.76 ± 0.44 L/min/m2 vs 0.82 ± 0.20 L/min/m2). Ischemic reperfusion lung injury (IRLI) [55%] and perioperative cardiovascular/hemorrhagic events (36%) were the major contributors to the development of respiratory failure. Preoperative pulmonary hypertension, right ventricular (RV) dysfunction, ischemic times, and need for bilateral LT and cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) were higher in patients with respiratory failure (p < 0.05) compared to recipients without respiratory failure. However, the presence of preoperative moderate-to-severe RV dysfunction was the only independent factor (odds ratio, 21.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.6 to 309.0).
Conclusion: Respiratory failure after LT is common and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Respiratory failure often occurred in patients with operative technical complications, cardiovascular events, and postoperative IRLI, which were observed most in patients requiring CPB because of RV dysfunction.