Although neurocognitive impairment is relatively common among patients with advanced lung disease, little is known regarding changes in neurocognition following lung transplantation. We therefore administered 10 tests of neurocognitive functioning before and 6 months following lung transplantation and sought to identify predictors of change. Among the 49 study participants, native diseases included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 22), cystic fibrosis (n = 12), nonfibrotic diseases (n = 11) and other (n = 4). Although composite measures of executive function and verbal memory scores were generally within normal limits both before and after lung transplantation, verbal memory performance was slightly better posttransplant compared to baseline (p < 0.0001). Executive function scores improved in younger patients but worsened in older patients (p = 0.03). A minority subset of patients (29%) exhibited significant cognitive decline (i.e. >1 standard deviations on at least 20% of tests) from baseline to posttransplant. Patients who declined were older (p < 0.004) and tended to be less educated (p = 0.07). Lung transplantation, like cardiac revascularization procedures, appears to be associated with cognitive decline in a subset of older patients, which could impact daily functioning posttransplant.
© Copyright 2012 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.