Objectives: Recently, lung transplantation has been performed with increasing frequency and improved outcomes. GI complications have been observed and reported in patients undergoing cardiac and renal transplantations but only recently have been reported in patients after lung transplantation. No large cohort has been systematically analyzed for all GI complications after lung transplantation. The present study describes, categorizes, and assesses risk factors for the development of such GI complications.
Methods: Records of 45 patients who underwent 47 single or bilateral orthotopic lung transplants between November 1991 and January 1994 were reviewed.
Results: Twenty-three patients (51%) had 64 GI complications requiring 13 operations on eight patients. The incidence of major abdominal procedures in the entire transplant cohort was 18% (8/45). Their operative mortality rate was 63% (5/8). Eighteen different types of nonoperative complications occurred and were subclassified into major and minor complications. Complications were defined as major if they required medical or surgical intervention and altered patient management. Most GI complications (73%) occurred within 1 month after transplantation. No risk factors were identified to ascertain who will develop GI complications.
Conclusions: GI complications occur in more than one-half of lung transplant recipients early after transplantation and in the absence of identifiable risk factors. Because there are no precedent risk factors to suggest who will develop GI complications, clinicians must be alert to any warning signs and symptoms. The majority of complications are nonoperative, responding to conservative therapy, but there is a higher overall mortality rate for patients requiring operative intervention, necessitating an aggressive search for major, life-threatening complications in these immunosuppressed patients.