Heart-lung transplantation involves the total replacement of two of the most complex organs of the thoracic cavity. This procedure is usually reserved for patients with failure of both systems, such as in primary pulmonary hypertension or chronic Eisenmenger physiology. The en bloc replacement of the heart and lungs leaves an open communication between the two sides of the thorax that may allow air or fluid to shift from one side to the other. To evaluate this possibility, the authors reviewed the chest radiographs of 25 heart-lung transplant recipients for signs of rapidly changing pneumothoraces that could not be explained by the conventional dynamics of pleural physiology. A series of postoperative radiographs showed unusual shifting or apparently rapid disappearance of pneumothoraces in eight patients. Decompression of a pneumothorax with a contralateral chest tube was a phenomenon observed in six of these patients.
- Heart, transplantation, 51.459
- Lung, transplantation, 60.459
- Pneumothorax, 60.73