Death occurring within one week of cardiac transplantation: findings in eight patients

Indiana Med. 1991 Jul;84(7):480-3.


Between October 1982 and July 1988, 85 patients underwent orthotopic heart transplantation at Methodist Hospital of Indiana. Excluding perioperative deaths, survival rates at six months, one year, two years and three years were 94%, 80%, 74% and 61%, respectively. However, eight patients (9.4%) died within one week of the transplantation. Causes of death included acute failure of the right side of the heart in four patients; compression of the proximal portions of the coronary arteries in one patient; hyperacute rejection in one patient; acute pneumonia and the adult respiratory distress syndrome in one patient; and sudden death of unknown etiology in one patient. The varied causes of death in this group of patients made it inaccurate to assume a particular cause of death for an individual patient, based on the length of the postoperative period alone. We reviewed these eight deaths in detail to better understand and, therefore, reduce the risk of early postoperative death in future patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors