Pediatric lung transplantation—are there surgical contraindications?

T C Koutlas, N D Bridges, J W Gaynor, S C Nicolson, J M Steven, T L Spray
Transplantation 1997 January 27, 63 (2): 269-74
Lung transplantation has evolved as a successful treatment for end-stage cardiopulmonary disease in children; however, clear guidelines regarding surgical exclusion criteria for pediatric lung transplant candidates have not been well-established. Since December 1994, we have performed 10 bilateral lung transplants and 1 heart-lung transplant in 10 recipients (mean age, 7 years; range, 3 months to 19 years). Indications for transplantation included pulmonary vascular disease (n=6), bronchiolitis obliterans (n=2), bronchopulmonary dysplasia (n=1), graft failure due to viral pneumonitis (n=1), and cystic fibrosis (n=1). Among the 10 patients, 4 were evaluated elsewhere for lung transplantation; of these, 3 were rejected by 1 or more programs because of "high-risk" characteristics. We considered 8 of the 10 patients to have 1 or more "high-risk" characteristics, as follows: previous chest operations other than open lung biopsy (n=6 patients having 1-4 previous operations), ventilator-dependence with tracheostomy and high-dose corticosteroids (n=4), redo lung transplant (n=2), concomitant intracardiac repair (n=6), portal hypertension (n=1), and the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at the time of transplant (n=1). Our standard operative approach was a bilateral thoracosternotomy. Cardiopulmonary bypass was used for explant of the recipient lungs and implant of the donor lungs, and during repair of coexisting congenital heart defects. Aprotinin and fresh whole blood were administered during the procedure to aid in hemostasis. Concomitant procedures were frequently performed and included repair of an intra-atrial baffle leak (prior Mustard procedure), closure of an atrial septal defect, repair of partial anomalous pulmonary venous return, reconstruction of the pulmonary venous confluence, ECMO decannulation, and splenectomy. There were no operative deaths, and no patient required re-exploration for bleeding. One patient had primary graft failure due to adenovirus infection of the donor lungs, and required prolonged mechanical ventilation and eventually ECMO support until retransplantation was performed. The mean hospital stay after transplant was 25+/-13 days (range, 10-56 days). All patients were discharged with a natural airway. Airway complications consisted of one bronchial anastomotic stricture which required dilation, for a complication rate of 5% per anastomoses at risk. One patient required reoperation for stenosis of the superior vena cava. There have been no late deaths, with a mean follow-up of 7+/-4 months (range, 1-13 months). We attribute this 100% operative and short-term survival in these "high-risk" pediatric lung transplant recipients to our operative methods, a multidisciplinary approach to postoperative management, and the enormous physiologic reserve of pediatric patients. Therefore, the standard exclusion criteria used for adult lung transplantation may not be applicable to the pediatric age group. We hope to use these data to expand the use of lung transplantation in pediatric patients.


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