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For Lung Transplants, More is Better

January 27, 2009

The number of lung transplants performed at a hospital could mean life or death for patients seeking the surgery, new research suggests.

In the first overall assessment of lung transplant success rates in the United States and Canada, researchers found institutions that perform 20 or more lung transplants every year have the best patient survival rates from the procedure. At these hospitals, over 95 percent of lung recipients survive after one month and 83 percent survive after a year. Hospitals that do two or fewer lung transplants per year see a 90 percent one-month survival rate and a 73 percent one-year rate.

To arrive at the numbers, researchers looked at the patient records for all lung transplants performed in the United States and Canada from 1998 to 2007.

“[The study] does mean that patients should consider consistently high volumes when evaluating their choices of where to have their transplant done, and it does mean that lower-volume centers really do need to learn from the higher-volume hospitals, taking a careful look at what they are doing right to raise their survival rates and lower a recipient’s chances of dying or suffering complications from surgery,” lead study author Eric Weiss, M.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in cardiac surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., was quoted as saying.

About 20 institutions perform 20 or more lung transplants each year. Of the 1,400 lung transplants that took place in 2007, 39 percent of patients survived for at least a year.

SOURCE: Presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in San Francisco, Jan. 26-29, 2009

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