Impact of extracorporeal life support on outcome in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension awaiting lung transplantation

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2011 Sep;30(9):997-1002. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2011.03.002. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


Background: Our management of patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (iPAH) awaiting lung transplantation changed in 2006 with the introduction of extracorporeal life support (ECLS) as an option to bridge these patients to transplantation (BTT).

Methods: To study the effect of this change on waiting list mortality and post-transplant outcome, 21 consecutive iPAH patients listed for lung transplantation between January 2006 and September 2010 (second cohort) were compared with 23 consecutive iPAH patients listed between January 1997 and December 2005 (first cohort).

Results: Between the first and second cohort, the number of patients admitted to the hospital as BTT increased from 4% (1 of 23) to 48% (10 of 21; p = 0.0009). Six patients were BTT with ECLS in the second cohort, including 4 with the Novalung device (Novalung GmbH, Hechingen, Germany) connected as a pumpless oxygenating right-to-left shunt between the pulmonary artery and left atrium. While on the waiting list, 5 patients (22%) died in the first cohort and none in the second cohort (p = 0.03). Time on the waiting list decreased from 118 ± 85 to 53 ± 40 days between the first and second cohort (p = 0.004). After lung transplantation, the 30-day mortality was 16.7% in the first cohort and 9.5% in the second cohort (p = 0.5). The postoperative intensive care unit stay increased from 17 ± 13 to 36 ± 30 days between the first and second cohort (p = 0.02). The long-term outcome after lung transplantation remained similar between both cohorts.

Conclusions: Aggressive management with ECLS of iPAH patients awaiting lung transplantation could have a major impact to reduce the waiting list mortality. This may, however, be associated with longer intensive care unit stay after transplant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / trends*
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Length of Stay
  • Life Support Care / methods*
  • Lung Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists*