Laparoscopic antireflux surgery in the lung transplant population

C L Lau, S M Palmer, D N Howell, R McMahon, D Hadjiliadis, J Gaca, T N Pappas, R D Davis, S Eubanks
Surgical Endoscopy 2002, 16 (12): 1674-8

BACKGROUND: Lung transplantation has emerged as a viable therapeutic option for patients with a variety of end-stage pulmonary diseases. As immediate posttransplant surgical outcomes have improved, the greatest limitation of lung transplantation remains chronic allograft dysfunction. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with resultant aspiration has been implicated as a potential contributing factor in allograft dysfunction. GERD is prevalent in end-stage lung disease patients, and it is even more common in patients after transplantation. We report here on the safety of laparoscopic fundoplication surgery for the treatment of GERD in lung transplant patients.

METHODS: Eighteen of the 298 lung transplants performed at Duke University Medical Center underwent antireflux surgery for documented severe GERD. The safety and benefit of laparoscopic fundoplications in this population was evaluated.

RESULTS: The antireflux surgeries included 13 laparoscopic Nissen fundoplications, four laparoscopic Toupets, and one open Nissen (converted secondary to extensive adhesions). Two of the 18 patients reported recurrence of symptoms (11%), and two others reported minor GI complaints postoperatively (nausea, bloating). There were no deaths from the antireflux surgery. After fundoplication surgery, 12 of the 18 patients showed measured improvement in pulmonary function (67%).

CONCLUSIONS: GERD occurs commonly in the posttransplant lung population. Laparoscopic fundoplication surgery, when indicated, can be done safely with minimal morbidity and mortality. In addition to the resolution of reflux symptoms, improvement in pulmonary function may be seen in this population after fundoplication. Lung transplant patients with severe GERD should be strongly considered for antireflux surgery.

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