Lung transplantation and survival in children with cystic fibrosis

N Engl J Med. 2007 Nov 22;357(21):2143-52. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa066359.


Background: The effects of lung transplantation on the survival and quality of life in children with cystic fibrosis are uncertain.

Methods: We used data from the U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry and from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to identify children with cystic fibrosis who were on the waiting list for lung transplantation during the period from 1992 through 2002. We performed proportional-hazards survival modeling, using multiple clinically relevant covariates that were available before the children were on the waiting list and the interactions of these covariates with lung transplantation as a time-dependent covariate. The data were insufficient in quality and quantity for a retrospective quality-of-life analysis.

Results: A total of 248 of the 514 children on the waiting list underwent lung transplantation in the United States during the period from 1992 through 2002. Proportional-hazards modeling identified four variables besides transplantation that were associated with changes in survival. Burkholderia cepacia infection was associated with a trend toward decreased survival, regardless of whether the patient underwent transplantation [corrected]. A diagnosis of diabetes before the patient was placed on the waiting list decreased survival while the patient was on the waiting list but did not decrease survival after transplantation, whereas older age did not affect waiting-list survival but decreased post-transplantation survival. Staphylococcus aureus infection increased waiting-list survival but decreased post-transplantation survival. Using age, diabetes status, and S. aureus infection status as covariates, we estimated the effect of transplantation on survival for each patient group, expressed as a hazard factor of less than 1 for a benefit and more than 1 for a risk of harm. Five patients had a significant estimated benefit, 283 patients had a significant risk of harm, 102 patients had an insignificant benefit, and 124 patients had an insignificant risk of harm associated with lung transplantation [corrected].

Conclusions: Our analyses estimated clearly improved survival for only 5 of 514 patients on the waiting list for lung transplantation. Prolongation of life by means of lung transplantation should not be expected in children with cystic fibrosis. A prospective, randomized trial is needed to clarify whether and when patients derive a survival and quality-of-life benefit from lung transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Burkholderia Infections / complications
  • Burkholderia cepacia
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / mortality*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Graft Rejection / mortality
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Quality of Life
  • Registries
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections / complications
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists