Reduction in airway complications after lung transplantation with novel anastomotic technique

Elizabeth Fitzsullivan, Cynthia J. Gries, Patrick Phelan, Farhood Farjah, Erin Gilbert, John C. Keech, Douglas E. Wood, Ganesh Raghu, Michael S. Mulligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Bronchial anastomotic complications develop in 31% of lung transplant recipients, leading to additional operative procedures and increased morbidity. Advances in surgical technique have thus far resulted in only modestly improved outcomes. We hypothesized that creating the bronchial anastomosis at the secondary carina using a combination of running and figure-of-eight sutures would minimize donor bronchial ischemia and airway complications. Methods: This retrospective review of a single surgeon's operative experience from 2000 to 2007 compares a new bronchial anastomotic technique with the conventional technique. The primary outcome was the occurrence of bronchial anastomotic complications requiring invasive intervention. The secondary outcome was distal airway complications. Patients were monitored for 1 year after transplant. Recipient and donor demographic data as well as relevant variables from their preoperative, perioperative, and postoperative courses were collected for analysis. These data were compared using t tests for normally distributed continuous variables, Mann-Whitney tests for nonnormally distributed continuous variables, and χ2 tests or Fisher exact test for categoric variables. Logistic regression was used to control for covariates while comparing the primary outcome between the new and conventional bronchial anastomotic techniques. Results: The analysis included 230 patients, representing 407 anastomoses. The occurrence of anastomotic complications requiring intervention and distal airway complications decreased from 18.1% to 2.3% of anastomoses and 12.2% to 4.4% of patients, respectively. After controlling for available risk factors, the new technique significantly reduced both anastomotic (p < 0.001) and distal (p = 0.03) airway complications. Conclusions: This new anastomotic technique dramatically reduces anastomotic and distal airway complications after lung transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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