Background: An age limit of 65 years has been suggested for lung transplantation (LTx).
Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of LTx recipients at our institution and compared survival rates among patients aged <60, 60 to 65, and >65 years. We identified common complications and risk factors for death among patients aged ≥ 60 years.
Results: Between January 2006 and May 2008, 126 of 268 (47%) of LTx recipients were aged >60 years, among whom 36% were 60 to 65 and 64% were >65 years. There were no differences in survival among patients aged <60, 60 to 65, and >65 years. Among older patients, the major complications were infections (78%), rejection (36%), thromboembolism (21%), bone fractures (12%), malignancies (10%), and drug toxicity (10%). Rejection was more common among patients who were aged 60 to 65, and malignancies and drug toxicity were more common among patients >65 years. Other complications did not differ by age group. Infections accounted for 69% of deaths within 12 months, and infection-related deaths did not differ among the groups. Major infections were the strongest independent risk factors for death (hazard ratio, 4.37), followed by cytomegalovirus mismatch (hazard ratio, 3.69) and pre-transplant coronary artery disease (hazard ratio, 2.43).
Conclusions: Survival rates among LTx recipients were similar regardless of age, but specific complications among older patients differed by age. Selection for LTx should not be based strictly on an age cutoff, but rather individualized according to general health status and other risk factors. Further research on risk factors affecting outcomes, pharmacokinetics and dynamics, quality of life, and mechanisms of untoward events is needed among older LTx recipients.
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