Lung transplantation is a surgical method which involves the removal and replacement of a diseased lung with a healthy lung from a donor. The donor may have died recently or may be a living donor with only a part of his or her lung removed. The reason why lung transplants are not frequently done is because of the lack of available donors from time to time.
Lung transplants are used to treat advanced lung disease which has failed to respond to standard treatments. This method can also increase a patient with end-stage lung disease by about 1 to 2 years. Some conditions that can be treated with lung transplantation include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is caused by damage to the lungs, usually by smoking and other diseases. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition which can cause clogging up of the lungs and the digestive system with thick sticky mucus.
There are three main types of lung transplants: the single lung transplant, the double lung transplant and the heart-lung transplant. The single lung transplant is done when a single damaged lung is removed and is replaced by a healthy lung from a donor. A single lung transplant can treat patients with pulmonary fibrosis.
A double lung transplant, on the other hand, is done when both lungs are removed and replaced with two donated lungs. This type of transplant is used to treat cystic fibrosis and COPD. The third type of transplant, known as a heart-lung transplant, removes a set of heart and lungs and replaces it with donated heart and lungs. This type of transplant is recommended for people with severe pulmonary hypertension.
Before a transplant, doctors will need to evaluate the patient very well and carry it out only if there is a good chance that it will be successful. There are certain contraindications to lung transplantation. Absolute contraindications include active smoking or substance abuse, organ failure other than the lungs, cancers and malignancies including lung cancers and some types of skin cancers, HIV disease or infections, impaired mobility and poor potential for rehabilitation, severe connective tissue disease with extensive extrathoracic manifestations, severe and intreated psychiatric disorders, and untreated coronary artery disease. Relative contraindications to the procedure include older age greater than 60 (if the procedure is heart-lung transplantation), age greater than 70 (if the procedure is for bilateral lung transplantations), age greater than 75 (for single lung transplantations), bilateral pulmonary sepsis (for single lung transplantations), dependence on ventilators, dependence on high doses of steroids, active hepatitis B or C and with liver damage, infections with resistant organisms, malnutrition, obesity, prior thoracic surgery or pleurodesis, recent history of malignancies, severe osteoporosis, presence of esophageal dysfunction, and others.
Before lung transplantation, the doctor may run a series of tests to determine your suitability for the procedure. The procedure usually takes around four to 12 hours to complete and depends on the complexity of the operation. It usually takes three months or more to recover from the procedure. At present, the number of lung transplantations has increased by 20%; this may be due to proper information dissemination among patients and recent successful lung transplant techniques. Lung transplantation is said to be the last remaining option for treating lung diseases, and it can also improve quality of life and lead to longevity.
Lung Transplantation and End Stage Lung Disease
In the recent edition of the Deutsches Ãrzteblatt International, researchers have studied how patients live after lung transplants. The results showed that deaths during the 90 days after the procedure have dramatically decreased over the past 25 years from 19.4% to 10%. As for complications, about 3% have an acute transplant rejection reaction, while almost 30% experience symptoms of chronic rejection. Aside from these complications arising from airway complications, transplant failure, and other serious medical conditions, lung transplantation is said to be a safe and effective procedure. The researchers want to disseminate this information so that more research on lung transplantations should be done.
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