Background: Rejection with severe hemodynamic compromise results in high mortality in adult transplant patients. This study determines the incidence, outcome and risk factors for rejection with severe hemodynamic compromise in a multi-institutional study of pediatric heart transplant recipients.
Methods: Data from 847 patients transplanted between 1/1/93 and 12/31/98 at 18 centers in the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study were analyzed. Rejection with severe hemodynamic compromise was defined as a clinical event occurring beyond 1 week postoperatively, which led to augmentation of immunosuppression and use of inotropic therapy. Actuarial freedom from such rejection and death after rejection were determined and risk factors sought.
Results: Among 1,033 rejection episodes in 532 patients, 113 (11%) episodes were associated with severe hemodynamic compromise in 95 patients. The highest risk for severe rejection was in the first year. Risk factors were older recipient age (p >.05) and non-white race (p >.001). Survival after an episode was poor (60%), and biopsy score did not affect outcome. Deaths were due to rejection (n = 14), other cardiac causes (n = 17), infection (n = 5), lymphoma (n = 2), pulmonary causes (n = 2), and thrombosis (n = 1).
Conclusions: Rejection with severe hemodynamic compromise occurs in 11% of pediatric patients, irrespective of age, sex or biopsy score, and mortality is high. Non-white race and older recipient age are independent risk factors for rejection with severe hemodynamic compromise. Aggressive treatment and close surveillance should be crucial components of protocols aimed at reducing the high mortality.