In the past five years, the number of lung transplantations carried out has increased by about 20%. In the end stage of various lung diseases, transplantation is the last remaining option for treatment, and it can both prolong life and improve its quality. Marc Hartert and colleagues have studied how patients do after a lung transplant, and their review appears in the current edition of the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2014; 111(7): 107-16).
What they found is that deaths in the 90 days after an operation for lung transplantation have gone down over the past 25 years from 19.4% to 10%. Although this is a positive finding, many patients still struggle with serious complications: about 3% have an acute transplant rejection reaction, while almost 30% experience symptoms of chronic rejection. Other frequently occurring problems are airway complications, transplant failure, and other serious medical conditions--often elsewhere in the body besides the lungs--resulting from the transplantation.
To continue to improve long-term results after lung transplantation, the authors suggest that better collaboration is needed between the transplantation centers and the local doctors and hospitals attended by patients for their ongoing aftercare.