Background: Airway complications are a significant cause of morbidity after lung transplantation. Effective treatment reduces the impact of these complications.
Methods: Data from 123 lung (99 single, 24 bilateral) transplants were reviewed. Potential risk factors for airway complications were analyzed. Stenoses were treated with expanding metal (Gianturco) stents.
Results: Mean follow-up was 749 days. Thirty-five complications developed in 28 recipients (complication rate: 23.8%/anastomosis). Mean time to diagnosis was 47 days. Only Aspergillus infection and airway necrosis were significantly associated with development of complications (p < 0.00001 and p < 0.03, respectively). Stenosis was diagnosed an average of 42 days posttransplant. Average decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was 39%. Eighteen patients (13 single and 5 bilateral) required stent insertion. Mean increase in FEV1 poststenting was 87%. Two stent patients died from infectious complications. Six patients required further intervention. Long-term survival and FEV1 did not differ from nonstented patients.
Conclusions: Aspergillus and airway necrosis are associated with the development of airway complications. Expanding metal stents are an effective long-term treatment.