Lung transplantation and survival in children with cystic fibrosis: Solid statistics - Flawed interpretation

Stuart C. Sweet, Paul Aurora, Christian Benden, Jackson Y. Wong, Samuel B. Goldfarb, Okan Elidemir, Marlyn S. Woo, George B. Mallory

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

In their provocative paper, "Lung transplantation and survival in children with cystic fibrosis," Liou and colleagues state that "Prolongation of life by means of lung transplantation should not be expected in children with cystic fibrosis. A prospective, randomized trial is needed to clarify whether and when patients derive a survival and quality of life benefit from lung transplantation." Unfortunately, that conclusion is not supportable. Liou's dataset introduced bias against transplantation by using covariates obtained well before the time of transplant (when predicted survival was good) and having a cohort with lower than expected post-transplant survival than reported elsewhere. The calculated hazard ratios are based on factors that may have changed between listing and transplant, and do not reflect true benefit on a patient by patient basis. The findings of the study are contrary to other studies using similar methods. Finally, recent changes in US lung transplant allocation policy may have made the study findings moot. In contrast to Liou's suggestion to perform an ethically and logistically challenging randomized trial to verify the benefit of lung transplantation, a research agenda is recommended for pediatric lung transplantation for cystic fibrosis that focuses on developing strategies to continually reassess and maximize quality of life and survival benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric transplantation
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung transplantation
  • Quality of life
  • Survival analysis

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