Objectives: This study analyzes our experience with transplantation of small donor hearts in a subgroup of moribund patients who could not be bridged to transplantation with mechanical assist devices. Background: The major problem facing transplant programs in the United States is the lack of donor heart availability. One method of expanding the donor pool may be to liberalize the criteria for an acceptable donor heart. Methods: We analyzed the growth and adaptation of 14 undersized and 14 conventionally sized donor hearts over a period of 10 weeks after heart transplantation. The left ventricular systolic and diastolic diameters, septal and posterior wall thicknesses, left ventricular mass calculated by the Penn convention and left ventricular ejection fraction were obtained by M-mode and twodimensional echocardiography and documented by a single reader in blinded manner. Echocardiographic measurements were obtained before implantation and at 5 and 10 weeks after orthotopic heart transplantation. Results: The mean (±SD) donor/recipient weight ratios were 0.53 ± 0.06 for undersized hearts and 0.98 ± 0.05 for normalsized hearts. All 28 patients received similar immunosuppressive regimens, including intravenous steroids, cyclosporine and azathioprine. The length of hospital stay after transplantation did not vary significantly between the two groups. All the patients had at least one rejection episode during the 10-week study period. There was a tendency toward higher pulmonary pressures in undersized hearts, which was not statistically significant. Heart rate was significantly higher for undersized hearts, due in part to the use of theophylline or terbutaline to maintain tachycardia. There was a significant increase in left ventricular systolic and diastolic dimensions in undersized hearts compared with conventionally sized hearts. Undersized hearts increased in left ventricular mass over the 10-week period, whereas the conventionally sized donor hearts did not change between 5 and 10 weeks. Conclusions: In undersized hearts the increase in left ventricular mass and internal dimensions, with preservation of the posterior/septal wall thickness ratio, suggests that the left ventricle adapts to the larger recipient circulation early after transplantation. Despite denervation and a mismatched load, undersized transplanted hearts adapt appropriately to their new hemodynamic milieu.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine