Pulmonary complications after bone marrow transplantation in children: Twenty-four years of experience in a single pediatric center



In children, pulmonary sequelae contribute to early and late morbidity after bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Between 1975–1999, we performed 152 BMTs in 138 pediatric patients with malignant and nonmalignant diseases. Allogenic bone marrow was used from 99 HLA identical siblings and from 23 other related or unrelated donors. Autologous marrow was used in 30 transplantations. Median age was 8.6 years (range, 1.1–22.4) at time of BMT. The median survival was 42%, the survival time was 6.5 years (range, 0.8–23.1), and the median follow-up time was 6.8 years (range, 0.8–23.2).

Seventeen patients had severe respiratory complications. Early severe respiratory complications leading to death within the first 4 months after BMT were due to pulmonary edema (n = 1), or fungal (n = 3), bacterial (n = 1), or viral (n = 2) pneumonia. Late severe respiratory sequelae were defined as persistent respiratory symptoms for more than 4 months despite treatment, and these occurred in 10 patients, of whom 5 died. Underlying diagnoses covered a wide spectrum, including bronchiolitis obliterans (n = 3), severe restrictive lung disease (n = 2), idiopathic pneumonia syndrome (n = 3), chronic bronchitis (n = 1), and hepatopulmonary syndrome (n = 1). The overall probability for death was 0.58, and for death from severe respiratory complications, 0.16.

With improved HLA matching, fewer BMTs after relapsed or primary progressive disease, and improved supportive care, including the usage of CMV negative blood products, after 1990 the probability of death from severe respiratory complications was only 0.04, whereas before 1990 it was 0.23 (P = 0.029; in each time period, n = 69). The disease spectrum has changed from initially more infectious complications to bronchiolitis obliterans and idiopathic pneumonia syndrome. Lung function measurements performed in 85 of 138 patients usually showed a mild restrictive pattern. To identify those children as early as possible who are at risk for severe respiratory complications, a close longitudinal follow-up after BMT by pediatric pulmonologists is necessary. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2000; 30:393–401. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.