Background: Cardiac retransplantation remains the most viable option for patients with allograft heart failure; however, careful patient selection is paramount considering limited allograft resources. We analyzed clinical outcomes following retransplantation in an academic, tertiary care institution. Methods: Between 1981 and 2011, 593 heart transplantations, including 22 retransplantations were performed at our institution. We analyzed the preoperative demographic characteristics, cause of allograft loss, short- and long-term surgical outcomes and cause of death among patients who had cardiac retransplantations. Results: Twenty-two patients underwent retransplantation: 10 for graft vascular disease, 7 for acute rejection and 5 for primary graft failure. Mean age at retransplantation was 43 (standard deviation [SD] 15) years; 6 patients were women. Thirteen patients were critically ill preoperatively, requiring inotropes and/or mechanical support. The median interval between primary and retransplantation was 2.2 (range 0-16) years. Thirty-day mortality was 31.8%, and conditional (> 30 d) 1-, 5- and 10-year survival after retransplantation were 93%, 79% and 59%, respectively. A diagnosis of allograft vasculopathy (p = 0.008) and an interval between primary and retransplantation greater than 1 year (p = 0.016) had a significantly favourable impact on 30-day mortality. The median and mean survival after retransplantation were 3.3 and 5 (SD 6, range 0-18) years, respectively; graft vascular disease and multiorgan failure were the most common causes of death. Conclusion: Long-term outcomes for primary and retransplantation are similar if patients survive the 30-day postoperative period. Retransplantation within 1 year of the primary transplantation resulted in a high perioperative mortality and thus may be a contraindication to retransplantation.
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