Lung transplantation (LTx) is offered to older and more complex patients who may be at higher risk of skeletal muscle dysfunction, but the clinical implications of this remain uncertain. The study aims were to characterize deficits in skeletal muscle mass, strength and physical performance and examine the associations of these deficits with clinical outcomes.
Fifty LTx candidates (58% male, 59 ± 9 years) were prospectively evaluated for skeletal muscle deficits: muscle mass using bio-electrical impedance, quadriceps, respiratory muscle and handgrip strength, and physical performance with the Short Physical Performance Battery. Comparisons between number of muscle deficits (low muscle mass, quadriceps strength and physical performance) and 6-minute walk distance (6MWD), London Chest Activity of Daily Living Questionnaire (LCADL), and quality of life were assessed using 1-way ANOVA. Associations with pre and posttransplant delisting/mortality, hospital duration, and 3-month posttransplant 6MWD were evaluated using Fisher’s exact test and Spearman correlation.
Deficits in quadriceps strength (n=27) and physical performance (n=24) were more common than muscle mass (n=8). LTx candidates with 2 or 3 muscle deficits (42%) compared to those without any deficits (26%) had worse 6MWD=-109 m, 95%CI (-175 to -43), LCADL=18, 95%CI (7-30), and St. George’s Activity Domain=12, 95%CI (2-21). Number of muscle deficits was associated with posttransplant hospital stay (r=0.34, p=0.04), but not with delisting/mortality or posttransplant 6MWD. Deficits in quadriceps muscle strength and physical performance are common in LTx candidates and further research is needed to assess whether modifying muscle function pretransplant can lead to improved clinical outcomes.