The role of cryotherapy for airway complications after lung and heart- lung transplantation

M. O. Maiwand, K. J. Zehr, C. M. Dyke, M. Peralta, S. Tadjkarimi, A. Khagani, M. H. Yacoub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: Although airway problems after lung and heart-lung transplantation have been greatly reduced due to changes in surgical technique, excessive granulation tissue at the anastomosis may threaten airway patency. Treatment options include electrocautery, dilation, laser coagulation and stent placement however, recurrence remains a problem. Cryotherapy, the controlled application of extreme cold, is effective at causing cell lysis in granulation tissue and may therefore be effective after lung transplantation for airway problems arising from granulation stenosis. Our objective was to review our experience with cryotherapy as a first-line treatment for airways compromised by granulation tissue after lung and heart- lung transplantation. Methods: A retrospective analysis of patient records after lung and heart-lung transplantation was performed. A total of 696 patients were identified who received lung or heart-lung transplants, 64 of whom were found to have granulation tissue at the site of airway anastomosis (8.9% of 721 airways at risk). When the granulation tissue was found to narrow the lumen by ≤ 50% and affect lung function. Results: The trachea was involved in 5 patients and the main stem bronchus in 16. Each patient required a mean of 2.6 ± 2.0 Cryoapplications. Anatomical results of cryotherapy were judged excellent to good in 15 patients and fair in 6 patients. Eight patients required endobronchial stenting as part of a multimodality treatment. Overall, the post-treatment FEV1 and FVC increased by 34 ± 36% and 25 ± 27% from pre-treatment values respectively (P < 0.001). In 13 patients in whom cryotherapy and dilation alone were effective, the FEV1 increased by 41 ±43% (range - 11 ± 138%) and the FVC by 28 ± 29% (range -4 and ± 96%). These changes were also significant (P < 0.001). Changes in these two parameters were positively and significantly correlated (P < 0.01). Acturial survival at 3 and at 5 years were 57 and 43%, respectively (NS compared to total cohort), and median survival was 978 days (range 365-1862). Six patients are alive at a median follow-up of 5.75 years (range 0.6-8.3). Conclusions: We conclude that cryotherapy is a safe, effective treatment for excessive granulation tissue after lung and heart- lung transplantation and may reduce the need for endobronchial stenting and limit recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-554
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Bronchial complications
  • Cryotherapy tracheal
  • Granulation tissue
  • Heart-lung transplantation
  • Lung transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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