Early intervention after severe oxygenation index elevation improves survival following lung transplantation

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2001 Jun;20(6):631-6. doi: 10.1016/s1053-2498(01)00249-2.


Background: Reperfusion injury and technical problems following lung transplantation may result in life-threatening pulmonary dysfunction that requires intervention with either extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or reoperation. Early intervention in these patients could prevent complications associated with delayed or emergent intervention and may improve survival. The oxygenation index [(mean airway pressure x percent of inspired oxygen)/partial pressure of arterial oxygen] provides a rapid assessment of pulmonary function in the critical phase of reperfusion. Our hypothesis was that the oxygenation index could be used as an early predictor for severe respiratory failure requiring acute intervention.

Methods: Analysis of 136 consecutive lung transplant operations revealed 18 patients (reperfusion injury in 16 and technical complications in 2) with an oxygen index of > or = 30. Of those patients with reperfusion injury, 9 had fibrotic lung disease, 4 had obstructive lung disease, and 3 had primary pulmonary hypertension.

Results: Patients undergoing transplantation for fibrotic lung diseases were more likely to develop severe reperfusion injury (oxygenation index > or = 30) compared to patients with obstructive lung diseases (9 of 42 or 21% vs 4 or 80 or 5%, p = 0.005). The 5 patients with early intervention (< or = 2 hours) after an oxygenation index elevation above 30 had significantly improved survival compared to the 13 with no or late intervention (80% vs 15% survival, p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Oxygenation index elevation > or = 30 following lung transplantation is an early predictor of severe respiratory failure requiring acute intervention. Early intervention in these patients improves survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Lung Transplantation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen