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Good Outcomes Possible for Older Lung Transplant Patients

Study finds otherwise healthy people have similar survival rates to younger cases

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Certain older patients can undergo lung transplantation and have good outcomes, and age should not be used to exclude patients from having the procedure, a new study says.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center reviewed the records of 48 UCLA patients between the ages of 65 and 72 who had lung transplants between March 2000 and September 2006, and compared them to 50 patients under age 65.

UCLA is one of the few transplant centers in the United States that offers lung transplants to patients 65 and older who are otherwise healthy.

Both groups had similar survival rates. The early survival rate was 95.7 percent for the older patients and 95.9 percent for the younger patients. The one-year survival rate was 79.7 percent for the older group and 91.2 percent for the younger group. The three-year survival rate was 73.6 percent for the older patients and 74.2 percent for the younger patients.

Older patients were more likely than the younger patients to receive single-lung transplants (76 percent vs. 16 percent) and were more likely to receive nonstandard lungs (46 percent vs. 28 percent). Nonstandard lungs are less than perfect but still acceptable for transplant.

The higher death rate among the older patients from one month to one year after transplantation -- caused primarily by infection -- may be due to age-related deterioration of the immune system, the study authors said.

"This finding warrants adjustments in the immunosuppression protocols for older patients," study author Dr. Raja Mahidhara, an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, said in a prepared statement. "In addition, future studies should look at the effects of lung transplantation in older recipients on the donor pool and on other, younger patients on the waiting list."

The study was published in the February issue of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about lung transplantation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: UCLA Health Sciences, news release, Feb. 4, 2008

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