Lung retransplantation in children: appropriate when selectively applied

Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Feb;91(2):574-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.09.011.


Background: Lung retransplantation (re-LTx) in children has been associated with lower survival rates compared with primary lung transplantation. However, improving survival for primary LTx has led to more patients presenting for re-LTx. Therefore, an analysis of the UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) database to evaluate the effectiveness of pediatric lung retransplantation in the United States was completed.

Methods: The UNOS registry was queried for pediatric re-LTx patients from May 1988 to May 2008. There were 81 (10%) re-LTx out of a total 802 pediatric lung transplants.

Results: Median age and weight at re-LTx were 14 (range, 0 to 18) years and 32 (4 to 58) kg. Indications for re-LTx were obliterative bronchiolitis in 50 patients (62%), primary graft failure in 8 (10%), and other in 23 (28%). The Kaplan-Meier graft survival for re-LTx patients was worse than for primary transplant patients (p < 0.001, graft half-life 0.9 vs 4.0 years), especially if re-LTx was done less than 1 year after primary transplant (graft half-life 0.25 years). Graft survival in patients who underwent re-LTx greater than 1 year after primary transplant was not statistically different than for primary LTx patients (p = 0.21; graft half-life 2.8 vs 4.0 years), and if re-LTx greater than 1 year posttransplant occurred in patients who were not ventilator dependent, survival was further improved (p = 0.68; graft half-life 4.7 vs 4.0 years).

Conclusions: Pediatric lung retransplantation within the first year after primary transplant does not appear advisable. Pediatric re-LTx greater than 1 year after primary transplantation may be a reasonable strategy for end-stage graft failure. Patients greater than 1 year posttransplant and not ventilator dependent appear an even more compelling group in which to consider lung retransplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Length of Stay
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality
  • Lung Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Retreatment
  • Treatment Outcome