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Ann Thorac Surg. 1989 Sep;48(3):350-5.

Cardiac retransplantation in the cyclosporine era.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, California.


Between December 1980, when immunosuppression with cyclosporine was introduced, and May 1988, 288 patients underwent primary transplantation for end-stage cardiac disease (group TX). Fourteen patients underwent retransplantation for accelerated graft atherosclerosis (group RTXAGA), and 9 underwent retransplantation for intractable acute allograft rejection (group RTXREJ). Cumulative patient follow-up was 724 patient-years (range, 1 month to 7.5 years; mean, 2.3 years). Within the first 3 postoperative months, no differences were noted between groups for linearized rates of infection or rejection except between the rate of rejection for group TX (1.69 +/- 0.09 events/100 patient-days) and group RTXAGA (0.94 +/- 0.3 events/100 patient-days) (p less than 0.02). No significant differences existed between groups for actuarial rates of remaining rejection-free or infection-free for more than 7.5 years. No significant differences in actuarial survival existed except between group TX (81% +/- 2% at 1 year and 58% +/- 4% at 5 years) and group RTXREJ (44% +/- 17% at 1 year and 44% +/- 0% at 5 years) (p less than 0.05). We conclude that patients who undergo retransplantation for accelerated graft atherosclerosis experience a lower rate of early rejection and similar rates of infection and survival compared with patients who receive primary transplants. Cardiac retransplantation for rejection incurs rejection and infection at rates similar to those of primary procedures. However, patients who undergo retransplantation for rejection survive these complications significantly less often than do patients who receive primary transplants. This information should be considered when scarce donor hearts become available and retransplantation is contemplated.

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