Gastroparesis after lung transplantation. Potential role in postoperative respiratory complications

Chest. 1995 Dec;108(6):1602-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.108.6.1602.


Background: We observed an unexpectedly high incidence of postoperative gastroparesis among lung and heart-lung transplant recipients.

Purpose: To identify the incidence of GI complications and to describe the clinical profiles of patients who developed symptomatic gastroparesis after lung transplantation.

Patients and methods: Retrospective study of GI symptoms and complications identified during 3 years of follow-up of 38 adult lung and heart-lung transplant recipients.

Results: Sixteen of 38 patients (42%) reported one or more GI complaint and received a specific GI diagnosis. Nine of 38 patients (24%) complained of early satiety, epigastric fullness, anorexia, nausea, or vomiting. Gastroparesis was suspected when endoscopic evaluation revealed undigested food in the stomach after overnight fast and symptoms could not be attributed to peptide disease or cytomegalovirus gastritis. Delayed gastric emptying was confirmed by gastric scintigraphy. Mean gastric empty (t1/2) was 263 +/- 115 min (normal < 95 min). Gastroparesis occurred in 4 of 13 right lung, 2 of 12 left lung, 1 of 9 bilateral single lung, and 2 of 4 heart-lung recipients (p = NS). Patients responded partially to metoclopramide or cisapride, with the exception of two patients who required placement of jejunal feeding tubes secondary to severe symptoms. In long-term follow-up, symptoms resolved in all patients and treatment with medications or mechanical intervention was successfully discontinued. Four of nine patients (44%) suffering from gastroparesis developed obliterative bronchiolitis (OB). Food particles were discovered in the BAL fluid of two such symptomatic patients. In contrast, only 6 of 29 (21%) nonsymptomatic patients developed OB (p = 0.16).

Conclusion: Symptomatic gastroparesis is a frequent complication of lung or heart-lung transplantation that may promote microaspiration into the lung allograft.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gastroparesis / diagnosis
  • Gastroparesis / etiology*
  • Heart-Lung Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications* / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies