Study objectives: To review our experience with diagnostic bronchoscopy in the evaluation of pulmonary infiltrates in adult hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients in the era of Pneumocystis prophylaxis and cytomegalovirus antigen testing. The study focused on diagnostic yields and the influence of bronchoscopic findings on pharmacologic therapy and mortality, comparing allogeneic (allo) HSCT patients to autologous (auto) HSCT patients.
Design: Case series review.
Setting: Tertiary care academic urban medical centers.
Patients: All adult allo-HSCT and auto-HSCT patients undergoing bronchoscopy for the evaluation of pulmonary infiltrates from January 1997 to September 2001.
Measurements and results: The review identified 169 bronchoscopies that had been performed on HSCT patients, representing 12.5% of all HSCT patients (allo-HSCT patients, 125 bronchoscopies; auto-HSCT patients, 44 bronchoscopies). Bronchoscopy was requested more often in allo-HSCT patients (18.7%) compared to auto-HSCT patients (6.6%). Findings at bronchoscopy provided a specific diagnosis more frequently in allo-HSCT patients (50%) compared to auto-HSCT patients (34%). For both allo-HSCT and auto-HSCT patients, most diagnoses were obtained by BAL alone, whereas transbronchial biopsy (TBBx) provided additional specific information in < 10% of cases. For select patients (n = 27), surgical lung biopsy following bronchoscopy provided unique diagnoses in 47 to 50% of cases. Information from bronchoscopy influenced clinical decisions more often in allo-HSCT patients (50%) than in auto-HSCT patients (36%), and allowed for the discontinuation or addition of antimicrobial, corticosteroid, or antineoplastic agents to treatment. Complications from bronchoscopy occurred in 9% of all HSCT patients (n = 15), and were associated with higher in-hospital mortality rates in allo-HSCT patients (82%; n = 9) compared to auto-HSCT patients (50%; n = 2). The overall in-hospital mortality rates for allo-HSCT and auto-HSCT patients having bronchoscopy was similar (38% vs 27%, respectively; p = 0.25), and establishing a specific diagnosis by bronchoscopy did not improve the in-hospital mortality rate for allo-HSCT or auto-HSCT patients.
Conclusions: Bronchoscopy may provide clinically useful information in the evaluation of adult allo-HSCT and auto-HSCT recipients with pulmonary infiltrates. The results of testing BAL fluid samples alone suggested an etiology in most cases, whereas the findings of TBBx provided unique diagnoses infrequently. Further studies are warranted to improve the utility of diagnostic bronchoscopy in the evaluation of HSCT patients.