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Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Sep;92(3):923-8; discussion 928. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2011.04.053.

Should heart transplant recipients with early graft failure be considered for retransplantation?

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University of Chicago Medical Center, Center for Health & the Social Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine if orthotopic heart transplantation performed within 90 days of an initial heart transplant (re-Tx) should be a contraindication to retransplantation based on inferior outcomes when compared with primary orthotopic heart transplantation recipients (control).


De-identified data were obtained from the United Network for Organ Sharing. The study population included all adult heart transplant recipients greater than 18 years old from 1995 to 2008 (n=26,804). Multivariable regression was performed in order to assess the simultaneous effect of multiple risk factors on posttransplant graft failure (PTGF) at 90 days. Secondary outcomes of interest included infection, stroke, and dialysis during the transplant hospitalization as well as primary nonfunction of the graft at 90 days.


Among the study cohort, there were 90 (0.34%) re-Tx patients. Median survival in this group was 1.6 years compared with 10.5 years for controls. Unadjusted PTGF, infection, dialysis, and primary nonfunction were significantly higher (p<0.001) in the re-Tx group. After risk adjustment, however, PTGF (p=0.545), infection (p=0.696), dialysis (p=0.664), stroke (p=0.115), and primary nonfunction (p=0.531), did not differ significantly between the 2 groups.


When controlling for pretransplant recipient characteristics, retransplantation within 90 days of a previous transplant is not associated with increased morbidity or mortality. However, unadjusted overall survival was significantly worse in the re-Tx group. This suggests that although retransplantation at 90 days alone is not a risk factor for inferior outcomes, given the significant comorbidities of these patients, the indications for retransplantation within 90 days are rare and must be critically examined.

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