Causes of late failure after heart transplantation: A ten-year survey

P. Gallo, L. Agozzino, A. Angelini, E. Arbustini, G. Bartoloni, P. Bernucci, E. Bonacina, C. Bosman, G. Catani, C. Di Gioia, C. Giordana, O. Leone, T. Motta, A. Pucci, M. Rocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Little is known about the causes of death of heart transplant recipients who survive long-term. Methods: The pathologic and clinical records of 97 patients who underwent heart transplantation in Italy from 1985 to 1995 and died (85 of 97) or underwent retransplantation (12 of 97) at least 2 years after transplantation were surveyed. Graft failures were classified as late (occurring between 2 and 5 years after transplantation) and belated (more than 5 years). Results: Graft vasculopathy was the single most common cause of death (40.0%) and the only cause of late retransplantation. Tumors ranked second (23.5% of deaths), but the expected non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and Kaposi's sarcoma were accompanied by a high number of lung cancers (especially metastasizing adenocarcinomas). They were followed by the emergence or recurrence of pretransplantation diseases (9.4%), fatal infections (exclusively bacterial) (4.7%), the development of transmissible diseases (viral hepatitis and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, 4.7%), and late acute rejection (2.3%). The distribution of failures differed in the late and belated periods: death and organ loss proportions for graft vasculopathy, respectively, fell and rose from the late to the belated period; some types of malignancy and fatal acute rejection were never observed in the belated period, whereas the emergence of pretransplantation diseases prevailed in the belated period. Graft vasculopathy was more frequent and tumors were less frequent among patients undergoing transplantation for ischemic heart disease. Conclusions: The reasons why heart transplant recipients die or undergo retransplantation, respectively, in the late and belated periods slightly differ from one another and are widely different than in short-term survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1121
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Transplantation


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