Background: Pulmonary embolism (PE) is unexpectedly detected in some donor lungs during organ procurement for lung transplantation. Anecdotally, such lungs are usually implanted; however, the impact of this finding on recipient outcomes remains unclear. We hypothesized that incidentally detected donor PE is associated with adverse short-term and long-term outcomes among lung transplant recipients. Methods: We analyzed a prospectively maintained database of all lung donors procured by a single surgeon and transplanted at our institution between 2009 and 2018. A standardized approach was used for all procurements and included antegrade and retrograde flush. Pulmonary embolism was defined as macroscopic thrombus seen in the pulmonary artery during the donor procurement operation. Results: A total of 501 consecutive lung procurements were performed during the study period. The incidence of donor PE was 4.4% (22 of 501). No organs were discarded owing to PE. Donors with PE were similar to donors without PE in baseline characteristics and PaO2. Recipients in the two groups were also similar. Pulmonary embolism was associated with a higher likelihood of acute cellular rejection grade 2 or more (10 of 22 [45.5%] vs 120 of 479 [25.1%], P = .03). Multivariable Cox modeling demonstrated an association between PE and the development of chronic lung allograft dysfunction (hazard ratio 2.02; 95% confidence interval, 1.23 to 3.30; P = .005). Conclusions: Lungs from donors with incidentally detected PE may be associated with a higher incidence of recipient acute cellular rejection as well as reduced chronic lung allograft dysfunction-free survival. Surgeons must use caution when transplanting lungs with incidentally discovered PE. These preliminary findings warrant corroboration in larger data sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


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