Annals of Thoracic Surgery vol:62 issue:1 pages:233-40; discussion 240-1
BACKGROUND. If lungs could be retrieved for transplantation from non-heart-beating cadavers, the shortage of donors might be significantly alleviated. METHODS. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and hypoxanthine levels were measured postmortem in rabbit lungs comparing deflation (group 1), ventilation with room air (group 2), inflation with room air (group 3), ventilation with oxygen (group 4), ventilation with cooled air (group 5), deflation plus cadaver cooling (group 6), and cooling by pulmonary arterial flush (group 7). RESULTS. The level of ATP dropped to 25.9% and HYP increased elevenfold at 30 minutes in group 1 but remained constant during 24 hours in group 7. The ATP catabolism beyond 2 hours postmortem appeared less in group 2 compared with group 3 (3.58 +/- 1.24 versus 0.39 +/- 0.08 mumol/g dry weight for ATP and 3.03 +/- 0.49 versus 7.64 +/- 0.94 mumol/g dry weight for hypoxanthine at 24 hours, respectively; p < 0.05). Cadaver cooling significantly slowed ATP catabolism. Changes in ATP level were similar in groups 2, 4, and 5. CONCLUSIONS. These data suggest that in the non-heart-beating cadaver (1) cooling, ventilation, and inflation can delay ATP catabolism; (2) postmortem ventilation but not inflation for more than 2 hours will inhibit further ATP breakdown; (3) ventilation with either oxygen or cooled air is not more beneficial than room air ventilation; and (4) cold flush more than cadaver cooling will prevent ATP depletion.