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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Lung Transplantation: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pulmonary Fibrosis
I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis caused by rheumatoid arthritis. I am 35 years old and in advanced stages. At what point are you typically put on a transplant list? It is my understanding that life expectancy without a transplant is 3-6 years. What is the average life expectancy with a successful transplant?
Although pulmonary fibrosis due to rheumatoid arthritis usually progresses slower than idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, we usually recommend that patients start the transplant evaluation when they are on oxygen or when there is a significant decline in the pulmonary function tests. The transplant evaluation can take several weeks due to all of the additional tests that are required (colonoscopy, bone density, heart catheterization, etc.).
Patients move up to the top of the transplant list depending on how severe their lung disease is so that patients receiving transplants are generally felt to be unable to survive for a year without the transplant. The survival post transplant depends on a number of variables, and you should discuss this question with the transplant physician who is doing your evaluation.
James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University