Impact of primary graft failure on outcomes following lung transplantation

Chest. 2005 Jan;127(1):161-5. doi: 10.1378/chest.127.1.161.


Study objectives: Primary graft failure (PGF) is a severe acute lung injury syndrome that occurs following lung transplantation. We compared the clinical outcomes of patients who developed PGF with those who did not.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study including 255 consecutive lung transplant procedures. PGF was defined as (1) diffuse alveolar opacities developing within 72 h of transplantation, (2) an arterial partial pressure of oxygen/fraction of inspired oxygen (PaO2/FiO2) ratio of < 200 beyond 48 h postoperatively, and (3) no other secondary cause of graft dysfunction. PGF was tested for acceptance with 30-day and all-cause hospital mortality rates, overall survival, hospital length of stay (HLOS), duration of mechanical ventilation, and best 6-min walk test (6MWT) distance achieved within 12 months.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Results: The overall incidence of PGF was 11.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.9 to 15.9%). The all-cause mortality rate at 30 days was 63.3% in patients with PGF and 8.8% in patients without PGF (relative risk [RR], 7.15; 95% CI, 4.34 to 11.80%; p < 0.001). A total of 73.3% of patients with PGF died during hospitalization vs 14.2% of patients without PGF (RR, 5.18%; 95% CI, 3.51 to 7.63; p < 0.001). The median HLOS in 30-day survivors was 47 days in patients with PGF vs 15 days in those without PGF (p < 0.001), and the mean duration of mechanical ventilation was 15 days in patients with PGF vs 1 day in those without PGF (p < 0.001). By 12 months, a total of 28.5% of survivors with PGF achieved a normal age-appropriate 6MWT distance vs 71.4% of survivors without PGF at 12 months (p = 0.014). The median best 6MWT distance achieved within the first 12 months was 1,196 feet in patients with PGF vs 1,546 feet in those without PGF (p = 0.009).

Conclusions: PGF has a significant impact on mortality, HLOS, and duration of mechanical ventilation following lung transplantation. Survivors of PGF have a protracted recovery with impaired physical function up to 1 year following transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Test
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Lung Transplantation* / mortality
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome