Continued Utility of Single-Lung Transplantation in Select Populations: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Ann Thorac Surg. 2015 Aug;100(2):437-42. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2015.03.024. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Background: The use of single lung transplantation (SLTx) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is often viewed as inferior therapy compared with bilateral lung transplantation (BLTx). We hypothesized from our experience that subpopulations of recipients with emphysema exist in which SLTx represents therapy that is equivalent to BLTx, therefore allowing more patients access to transplantation.

Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing LTx for emphysema between 1992 and 2012 at a single institution were identified and analyzed retrospectively. A similar cohort from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) national database was identified for comparison. Five-year survival in patients receiving SLTx and those receiving BLTx were compared using Kaplan-Meier survival curves and log-rank tests.

Results: Two hundred thirty-six patients meeting criteria were identified from our institution. Two hundred six underwent SLTx, and 30 underwent BLTx. Five-year survival for single-center SLTx (53.2% ± 3.6%) and BLTx (56.7% ± 10.2%) was not significantly different (p = 0.753). The national database included 7,256 patients meeting selection criteria, with 4,408 undergoing SLTx and 2,848 undergoing BLTx. Five-year survival among the national cohorts was lower for SLTx (46.4% ± 0.8%) compared with BLTx (55.9% ± 1.1%) (p < 0.0001). However, 5-year survival for our single-center SLTx experience (53.2% ± 3.6%) was comparable to the national BLTx cohort (55.9% ± 1.1%) (p = 0.539).

Conclusions: Five-year survival after SLTx for emphysema was comparable to that for BLTx in cohorts from our institution and from the UNOS national database. Further study should focus on the mechanism behind these improved outcomes. Given the potential for a larger number of life-years saved, SLTx should continue to be considered a therapeutic option in appropriately selected patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / surgery*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / mortality*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors