Lung transplant in end-staged chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients: a concise review

J Thorac Dis. 2010 Jun;2(2):111-6.


Lung transplantation is commonly used for patients with end-stage lung disease. However, there is continuing debate on the optimal operation for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis. Single-lung transplantation (SLT) provides equivalent short- and medium-term results compared with bilateral lung transplantation (BLT), but long-term survival appears slightly better in BLT recipients (especially in patients with COPD). The number of available organs for lung transplantation also influences the choice of operation. Recent developments suggest that the organ donor shortage is not as severe as previously thought, making BLT a possible alternative for more patients. Among the different complications, re-implantation edema, infection, rejection, and bronchial complications predominate. Chronic rejection, also called obliterative bronchiolitis syndrome, is a later complication which can be observed in about half of the patients. Improvement in graft survival depends greatly in improvement in prevention and management of complications. Despite such complications, graft survival in fibrosis patients is greater than spontaneous survival on the waiting list; idiopathic fibrosis is associated with the highest mortality on the waiting list. Patients should be referred early for the pre-transplantation work-up because individual prognosis is very difficult to predict.

Keywords: Lung transplantation; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.