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Pulmonary fibrosis: Rate of disease progression as a trigger for referral for lung transplantation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura Mackay, Dr Rachel Anderson, Dr James Lordan, Emeritus Professor Nick Europe-Finner, Professor Andrew FisherORCiD



Background: Lung transplantation is the only treatment modality that provides a survival advantage in pulmonary fibrosis, but many patients deemed suitable will die awaiting lung transplantation. While donor organ shortage undoubtedly contributes to this, late referral to the transplant centre may also play a role. This study investigates factors influencing the chance of patients with pulmonary fibrosis reaching lung transplantation. Methods: A single-centre retrospective review of patient demographic data, assessment investigations and subsequent clinical outcomes was performed for patients with pulmonary fibrosis assessed for lung transplantation over a 5-year period. Results: Between March 1999 and March 2004, 129 patients with pulmonary fibrosis underwent formal transplant assessment. Sixty-nine were accepted and listed for lung transplantation. Of these, 17 were transplanted, 37 died while waiting, 4 were removed from the list and 11 were still waiting at the conclusion of the study. The median waiting time on the list for those transplanted was 103 days (range 6-904) compared with 125 days (range 2-547) for those who died while on the list (p = 0.65). There was no significant difference in age, spirometry, total lung capacity, gas transfer measures or 6 min walk distance between those who died waiting and those transplanted. However, time from onset of symptoms to transplant assessment was significantly shorter in those who died on the waiting list (median 29 months (range 2-120)) than in those transplanted (median 46 months (range 6-204), p = 0.037). Conclusion: Patients with pulmonary fibrosis who died awaiting transplantation had similar disease severity at assessment as those who achieved transplantation. However, the interval between symptom onset and transplant referral was significantly shorter in those who died while on the waiting list, suggesting they had more rapidly progressive disease. The rate of disease progression appears to be a more sensitive indicator for transplantation referral than any single physiological measure of disease severity and should act as an important trigger for early transplant referral.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mackay LS, Anderson RL, Parry G, Lordan J, Corris PA, Fisher AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Thorax

Year: 2007

Volume: 62

Issue: 12

Pages: 1069-1073

Print publication date: 01/12/2007

Date deposited: 24/05/2010

ISSN (print): 0040-6376

ISSN (electronic): 1468-3296

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/thx.2006.068494

PubMed id: 17573439


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0701349Medical Research Council