Bronchial airway anastomotic complications after pediatric lung transplantation: incidence, cause, management, and outcome.


Choong CK, Sweet SC, Zoole JB, Guthrie TJ, Mendeloff EN, Haddad FJ, Schuler P, De la Morena M, Huddleston CB.

Date: 19 January 2006


Airway complications are a recognized surgical complication and an important source of morbidity after adult lung transplantation. Little is known about these complications after pediatric lung transplantation. METHODS: Data of pediatric lung transplants performed between January 1990 and December 2002 in a single pediatric institution were reviewed retrospectively. RESULTS: A total of 214 patients, with a mean age of 9.8 +/- 6.1 years (range 0.01-19.7 years), underwent 239 lung transplants: 231 bilateral and 8 single. Mean follow-up was 3.4 years. Forty-two airway complications requiring interventions (stenosis = 36; dehiscence = 4; malacia = 2) developed in 30 recipients (complication rate: 9% of 470 bronchial anastomoses at risk). There were airway complications in 29 bilateral lung transplants (13%) and 1 single lung transplant (13%). Mean time to diagnosis was 51 +/- 27 days (median: 53, range 1-96 days), and diagnoses were made in 90% of patients within the first 3 months after transplantation. Preoperative Pseudomonas cepacia, postoperative fungal lung infection, and days on mechanical ventilator were found to be significant risk factors on multivariate analysis (P = .002, P = .013 and P = .003, respectively). Treatment included rigid bronchoscopic dilatation in 17 patients, balloon dilatation in 13 patients, and stent placement in 12 patients. Other treatments consisted of debridement, fibrin glue application, chest tube placement, and pneumonectomy followed by retransplantation. No patients died as a direct result of airway complications. There was no significant difference in the incidence of bronchiolitis obliterans or overall survival in comparison with patients who did not have airway complications. CONCLUSIONS: Airway complications are a significant cause of morbidity after pediatric lung transplantation. The majority are successfully treated, and patient outcomes are not adversely affected.

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