Purpose of review: Lung transplantation has been one of the great medical advances as the last option for the treatment of end-stage pulmonary disease. Optimal pulmonary care of potential donors and recipients can definitely increase the number of successful lung retrievals and reduce the incidence of complications.
Recent findings: The use of a lung-protective ventilatory strategy, associated with recruitment maneuvers, has a profound clinical impact, doubling the number of lungs available for transplant. Postoperatively, it is important to use a lung-protective ventilation strategy, whereas for patients with life-threatening reperfusion injury, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation can ensure a survival rate between 50 and 80%. Pumpless extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal system allows the maintenance of normal gas exchange and can be maintained in the perioperative period.
Summary: Perioperative ventilatory care of the transplanted patient still represents a challenge for the ICU clinician. The lung-protective strategy and the early application of carbon dioxide removal systems can increase the number of lung donor eligibility. Further studies are needed to increase the viability of other organs and to develop new strategies that reduce the risk of ischemia-reperfusion injury, which still represents the most common complication in the postoperative period.