Causes of death in lung transplant recipients

C. Chaparro, J. R. Maurer, D. Chamberlain, A. De Hoyos, T. Winton, G. Westney, S. Kesten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Between November 1983 and September 1992, The Toronto Lung Transplant Program performed 131 lung transplantations in 122 recipients; 53 single lung transplantations and 78 double lung transplantations. Forty-five patients died, 25 (47%) in the single lung transplantation and 20 (25%) in the double lung transplantation groups. We retrospectively reviewed the hospital charts of all deceased recipients and the postmortem reports of the 35 patients (20 single lung transplantations and 15 double lung transplantations) who had autopsies. Preoperative single lung transplantation diagnoses included pulmonary fibrosis, (n = 17) obstructive disease (n = 6) and vascular disease (n = 2). Preoperative diagnosis of double lung transplantation included pulmonary fibrosis (n = 2), obstructive disease (n = 6), septic lung disease (n = 9), and vascular disease (n = 3). The most common cause of death in single lung transplantation was infection. Five patients died of bronchiolitis obliterans, and five more had bronchiolitis obliterans lesions present at autopsy that were not a direct cause of death. Diagnosis of primary disease was made in 23 of 25 single lung transplantations antemortem and 2 of 25 at autopsy. Autopsy diagnoses were disseminated Aspergillus and cytomegalovirus infection. In double lung transplantations, infection was also the primary cause of death; in three other patients, airway dehiscence preceded infection. Bronchiolitis obliterans was the second most common cause of death and was also present in four patients dying of infection. All double lung transplantation diagnoses were made antemortem. We concluded that infection and then bronchiolitis obliterans are the primary causes of death after lung transplantation. Although infection is a major cause both early and late after transplantation, bronchiolitis obliterans is an important factor in transplantation only late after the operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-766
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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