A Data-Driven Approach to Defining the Volume-Outcome Relationship in Lung Transplantation

E. L. Godfrey, W. C. Frankel, A. Rana, K. K. Liao, G. Loor, Erik E. Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE: Advances in immunosuppression, bridging therapies, and ex vivo perfusion and ventilation have led to substantial advances in lung transplantation (LTx). Nevertheless, LTx is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Better outcomes have been demonstrated in "high volume" lung transplant centers, but the field lacks a definition of high volume. The present study aims to identify meaningful, data-driven volume thresholds predicting improved outcomes for LTx centers. METHODS: All single and double LTx cases performed on patients over the age of 18 between 2005 and 2015 in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database were reviewed. Patients listed for other organs or transplants performed in centers that were active for less than three of the ten years of the study period were excluded. Under 1% of patients were excluded due to lack of follow-up data. Stratum-specific likelihood ratios (SSLR) were calculated to establish volume thresholds predictive of the primary outcome of 1 year mortality. Demographic and outcomes data were compared between volume strata. RESULTS: A total of 20,153 recipients were included in the final cohort. We identified two thresholds based on SSLR analysis at 12 and 28 LTx/year, which yielded three distinct volume strata: low (under 12), intermediate (12-27), and high volume (over 27). The majority of transplants are performed at high volume centers, which have shorter lengths of stay (24 days vs 29 for low-volume) and better 30-day and 1-year patient survival (96.7% and 86%, vs 94.2% and 80.3% for low-volume), despite older recipients, greater ischemic time, and increased use of extended-criteria donors. CONCLUSION: The results of our study support that high volume centers outperform their low and intermediate volume counterparts and distinguish between the three volume levels. Our study adds to the existing literature by estimating targets for annual lung transplants at which centers may attain improvements in recipient outcomes.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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