Lung transplantation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Jul 15;184(2):159-71. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201101-0134CI. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


First performed in 1963, lung transplantation is approaching the half-century mark. With more than 32,000 procedures having been performed worldwide, lung transplantation has become the standard of care for select patients with advanced lung diseases of various nonmalignant etiologies. Indications for transplantation have broadened over the years, and selection criteria have become less restrictive. A relatively scarce donor pool limits wider application of this therapy, but this is being addressed in part through relaxation of donor selection criteria, donor management protocols that preserve and optimize lung function, and development of ex vivo perfusion techniques to "recondition" suboptimal organs. Bilateral lung transplantation has become the procedure of choice for most indications, although its preferential use in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis remains controversial. Post-transplantation survival has steadily improved, but significant constraints on long-term survival persist as evidenced by a median survival rate that currently stands at 5.7 years. This has brought into focus the question of whether and for whom transplantation actually confers a survival advantage, a question that in the absence of randomized trials can only be answered with statistical modeling. Primary graft dysfunction, infection, and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome are common complications encountered by the lung transplant recipient and are major impediments to long-term survival. This review provides an overview of the current status of lung transplantation, highlighting both the many advances that have taken place and the challenges that remain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / complications
  • Donor Selection / methods
  • Graft Rejection / complications
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / surgery*
  • Lung Transplantation / methods*
  • Lung Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Transplantation / trends
  • Patient Selection
  • Survival Rate