Detailed description of functional exercise outcomes before and after lung transplantation is lacking. The objective of this study was to describe and compare posttransplant improvement in lung function and peak exercise parameters in patients with advanced lung disease.
The study included 153 patients who underwent lung transplantation over 7 years who had complete cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) before and after lung transplantation. CPET and PFT within 30 months pretransplant and posttransplant were compared.
Pulmonary function markedly improved posttransplant as FVC increased 67%, maximum voluntary ventilation increased 91%, and FEV1 increased 136%. However, peak oxygen consumption increased only 19%, peak CO2 production increased 50%, and peak work increased 78%. Although transplant recipients had a 1.5- to 2.0-fold increase in exercise capacity posttransplant, peak exercise capacity remained at 50% of the predicted normal, suggesting a maximal limitation. Subgroup stratification into quartiles based on pretransplant exercise capacity revealed the greatest exercise benefit to be in the lowest functional pretransplant groups.
Lung transplant recipients have an increase in exercise capacity that does not match the improvement in lung function, indicating that poor strength, deconditioning, or other peripheral factors play a significant role in the limitation of exercise benefit posttransplantation. Further elucidation of the mechanisms of exercise limitation may allow for improved exercise outcomes posttransplant.