COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Supranormal expiratory airflow after bilateral lung transplantation is associated with improved survival.

RATIONALE: flow volume loops (FVL) in some bilateral lung transplant (BLT) and heart-lung transplant (HLT) patients suggest variable extrathoracic obstruction in the absence of identifiable causes. These FVLs usually have supranormal expiratory and normal inspiratory flow rates (SUPRA pattern).

OBJECTIVES: characterize the relationship of the SUPRA pattern to predicted donor and recipient lung volumes, airway size, and survival.

METHODS: we performed a retrospective review of adult BLT/HLT patients. We defined the SUPRA FVL pattern as: (1) mid-vital capacity expiratory to inspiratory flow ratio (Ve50:Vi50) > 1.0, (2) absence of identifiable causes of extrathoracic obstruction, and (3) Ve50/FVC ≥ 1.5 s(-1). We calculated predicted total lung capacity (pTLC) ratio by dividing the donor pTLC by the recipient pTLC. We measured airway luminal areas on thoracic computer tomographic scans. We compared survival in patients with and without the SUPRA pattern.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: the SUPRA FVL pattern occurred in 56% of the 89 patients who qualified for the analysis. The pTLC ratio of SUPRA and non-SUPRA patients was 1.11 and 0.99, respectively (P = 0.004). A higher pTLC ratio was correlated with increased probability of the SUPRA pattern (P = 0.0072). Airway luminal areas were larger in SUPRA patients (P = 0.009). Survival was better in the SUPRA cohort (P = 0.009).

CONCLUSIONS: the SUPRA FVL pattern was frequent in BLT/HLT patients. High expiratory flows in SUPRA patients could result from increased lung elastic recoil or reduced airway resistance, both of which could be caused by the pTLC mismatch. Improved survival in the SUPRA cohort suggests potential therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes in BLT/HLT patients.

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