Background. Hyperammonemia is a rare, often fatal complication after transplantation. The etiology is unknown, but recognition and rapid treatment may help to improve the survival of this unusual syndrome. We present the largest case series to date of hyperammonemia after lung transplantation (LTx) and discuss a treatment protocol that has been developed at our institution. Methods. We conducted a retrospective cohort series of patients who underwent LTx between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2013. Patients who developed hyperammonemia syndrome in the posttransplantation period, which was defined as symptoms of encephalopathy and plasma ammonia level exceeding 200 ìmol/L on at least 1 occasion, were included. Data including demographics, antimicrobial and immunosuppression regimens, ammonia levels and other pertinent laboratory data, treatments administered, and outcomes were recorded. Results. Eight of 807 lung transplant recipients developed hyperammonemia syndrome postoperatively during this time period. Median time to onset was 9.0 days, and median peak ammonia level was 370 ìmol/L. All 8 patients were treated with hemodialysis, 7 of 8 patients were treated with bowel decontamination, and 5 of 8 patients were treated with nitrogen scavenging agents. Six of the 8 patients died. Conclusions. The incidence of hyperammonemia syndrome in LTx patients was approximately 1%. Future research is needed to determine the efficacy of treatment, including hemodialysis, bowel decontamination, antibiotics, and the use of nitrogen scavenging agents in lung recipients with hyperammonemia.
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