Survival after bilateral versus single-lung transplantation for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Ann Intern Med. 2009 Dec 1;151(11):767-74. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-151-11-200912010-00004.


Background: Patients with end-stage idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are increasingly having bilateral rather than single-lung transplantation.

Objective: To compare survival after single and bilateral lung transplantation in patients with IPF.

Design: Analysis of data from the United Network of Organ Sharing registry.

Setting: Transplantation centers in the United States.

Patients: 3327 patients with IPF who had single (2146 patients [64.5%]) or bilateral (1181 patients [35.5%]) lung transplantation between 1987 and 2009.

Measurements: Survival times and causes of death after lung transplantation. Selection bias was accounted for by multivariate risk adjustment, propensity score risk adjustment, and propensity-based matching.

Results: Median survival time was longer after bilateral lung transplantation than single-lung transplantation (5.2 years [CI, 4.3 to 6.7 years] vs. 3.8 years [CI, 3.6 to 4.1 years]; P < 0.001). However, survival times for the 2 procedures did not differ after adjustment for baseline differences, with adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for mortality with bilateral transplantation ranging from 0.89 (95% CI, 0.79 to 1.02) to 0.96 (CI, 0.77 to 1.20) in different analyses. Bilateral lung transplantation seemed to result in harm within the first year (HR, 1.18 [CI, 0.98 to 1.42]) but survival benefit thereafter (HR, 0.72 [CI, 0.59 to 0.87]). Primary graft failure was a more common cause of death among patients who had bilateral rather than single-lung transplantation (3.7% vs. 1.9%; P = 0.002). Cancer was a more common cause of death among patients who had single rather than bilateral lung transplantation (unadjusted HR for death among single vs. bilateral transplant recipients, 3.60 [CI, 2.16 to 6.05]; P <0.001).

Limitation: Causes of death were ascertained without an adjudication committee and must be interpreted cautiously.

Conclusion: Survival did not differ between patients who had single and bilateral lung transplantation. Single-lung transplantation confers short-term survival benefit but long-term harm, whereas bilateral transplantation confers short-term harm but long-term survival benefit.

Primary funding source: None.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / surgery*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Propensity Score
  • Risk Adjustment
  • United States / epidemiology