Background: The average waiting time for candidates for lung transplantation (LTx) with end-stage emphysema is 21 months with a 15% mortality. We hypothesized that lung reduction might offer an alternative to LTx.
Methods: Of 95 patients with end-stage emphysema evaluated by our LTx program, 45 were accepted for both lung reduction and LTx and 35 underwent lung reduction.
Results: All 35 patients survived lung reduction. Thirty patients had a follow-up of 3 months. There was a significant improvement (p < 0.05) of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (0.64 to 0.97 L), forced vital capacity (2.12 to 2.76 L), residual volume (5.62 to 4.26 L), maximum voluntary ventilation (28.1 to 38.5 L/min), 6-minute walk (904 to 1,012 feet), Borg dyspnea index (3.7 to 2.4), and arterial carbon dioxide tension (44.9 to 41.6 mm Hg). Twenty patients (66%) were removed from the LTx list due to their significant improvement (group A). Compared with the remaining 10 patients with 3 months of follow-up (group B), percent increase in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (70% in group A versus 27% in group B) and in forced vital capacity (41% group A versus 18% group B) and percent decrease in residual volume (26% group A versus 1.5% group B) were significantly better in group A (p < 0.01). Seven patients in group B were bridged to LTx; 6 of these patients (86%) had hypercarbia before lung reduction compared with 8 (40%) in group A (p < 0.05). All are alive after LTx: the forced expiratory volume in 1 second is 53% and the forced vital capacity is 64% of predicted.
Conclusions: Lung reduction is safe and effective in selected LTx candidates with end-stage emphysema and has the potential to provide an alternative to LTx. Long-term follow-up is warranted to confirm these results.