Infection with Burkholderia cepacia in cystic fibrosis: outcome following lung transplantation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Jan;163(1):43-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.163.1.9811076.


As a result of concern over excessive mortality after lung transplantation, many transplant programs refuse to accept cystic fibrosis (CF) patients infected with Burkholderia cepacia. As a significant proportion of patients with CF in our community are infected with this organism, we have continued to provide lung transplantation as an option. A retrospective review was conducted of medical records of all patients with CF transplanted between March 1988 and September 1996. Fifty-six transplant procedures were performed in 53 recipients with CF between March 1988 and September 1996. Twenty-eight had B. cepacia isolated pretransplant and 25 remaining positive post-transplant. Of the 53 recipients, 19 have died (15 of 28 [54%] B. cepacia positive and 4 of 25 [16%] B. cepacia negative). B. cepacia was responsible for or involved in 14 deaths. Nine of the deaths occurred in the first 3 mo post-transplantation. One-year survival was 67% for B. cepacia positive patients and 92% for B. cepacia negative patients. Recent modifications in antimicrobial and immunosuppressive therapy since 1995 have resulted in no deaths early post-transplant in the last five patients transplanted. We conclude that early mortality in patients with CF infected with B. cepacia is significantly higher than in those not infected with B. cepacia. Modifications in post-transplant medical therapy may improve outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burkholderia Infections / complications
  • Burkholderia Infections / etiology*
  • Burkholderia Infections / mortality
  • Burkholderia cepacia* / isolation & purification
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies