Lung transplantation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: past, present, and future directions

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Purpose of review

Lung transplantation offers an effective treatment modality for patients with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The exact determination of when to refer, list, and offer transplant as well as the preferred transplant procedure type remains unclear. Additionally, there are special considerations specific to patients with COPD being considered for lung transplantation, including the implications of single lung transplantation on lung cancer risk, native lung hyperinflation, and overall survival.

Recent findings

The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation's most recent recommendations rely on an assessment of COPD severity based on BODE index. Despite the lack of evidence supporting a mortality benefit of bilateral over single lung transplantation for COPD patients, the majority of transplants performed in this population remain bilateral. Some of the concerns specific to single lung transplantation remain the possibility of de novo native lung cancer and the hemodynamic and physiologic implications of acute native lung hyperinflation.


COPD remains the most common worldwide indication for lung transplantation. Ongoing study is still required to assess the overall survival benefit of lung transplantation and assess the overall quality of life impact on the COPD patient population.

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