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Persistent air leak after pulmonary transplantation


A 59-year-old man with bilateral apical emphysema underwent a double lung transplant for end-stagechronic obstructive pulmonary disease leaving remnant right apical native tissue due to pleural adhesions. Initial postoperative course was uneventful until the chest drains were removed. This revealed a small pneumomediastinum, which progressively increased in size causing gross surgical emphysema. Re-insertion of the chest drain stabilised the patient so that the cause could be identified and corrected. Two bronchoscopies excluded anastomotic dehiscence as a cause. Therefore the subcostal wound was refashioned under video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in case there was a defect. Unfortunately this also failed to halt the air leak; therefore another cause was sought. A multidisciplinary team meeting review of the radiology revealed that the patient's native bullous tissue was still inflated. Subsequent bronchoscopy revealed a native bronchial communication, due to variant anatomy, proximal to the surgical anastomosis. This was subsequently occluded using a bronchial valve allowing the patient to make a swift recovery.

  • Pulmonary Emphysema
  • Transplantation

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