Background: No current evidence demonstrates improved survival or decreased rate of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) despite regularly scheduled fiberoptic bronchoscopy (FOB) with transbronchial biopsy and bronchoalveolar lavage (TBB/BAL) after lung transplantation. Reduced lung function detected with spirometry or oximetry in symptomatic and asymptomatic lung allograft recipients (LARs) may be a more appropriate indication for bronchoscopic sampling.
Hypothesis: Clinically indicated TBB/BAL without routine invasive surveillance sampling of the transplanted lung does not decrease survival or increase the rate of BOS in LARs.
Methods: We reviewed 91 consecutive LARs transplanted at Ochsner Clinic between January 1995 and December 1999. Clinical indications for FOB with TBB/BAL include 10% decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second below baseline; 20% decrease in forced expiratory flow rate between 25% and 75% of the forced vital capacity; or unexplained respiratory symptoms, signs, or fever. Along with demographic and clinical data, 1-year and 3-year survival rates for these 91 LARs were compared with 5,430 LARs from the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) Registry transplanted during the same 60-month period. Ten of the 91 patients did not survive to hospital discharge after transplantation. We divided the remaining 81 LARs into 2 subsets: Group A patients (n = 43) underwent zero to 1 TBB/BAL and Group B patients (n = 38) required more than 1 procedure. Demographic data, rejection, infection, and incidence of BOS were compared between groups.
Results: The 1-year and 3-year survival rates in the Ochsner LAR cohort were 85% and 73%, respectively, vs 72% and 57% in the ISHLT cohort p < 0.01. The relative risks of death in the Ochsner group at 1- and 3-years were 0.56 (0.35-0.91) and 0.66 (0.48-0.92), respectively, p < 0.05. The median (range) follow-up was 910 days (60-1,886) for Group A and 961 days (105-1,883) for Group B, p = not significant. We observed twice as many patients with cystic fibrosis and twice as many pneumonia episodes in Group B. The rate of acute rejection in each group was not statistically different. The cumulative incidence of BOS was increased in Group B at 1 year and at 3 years (5% and 56%) when compared with Group A (3% and 13%), p < 0.01.
Conclusions: Based on the findings from this observational, single-institution study, clinically indicated TBB/BAL without routine surveillance sampling of the lung allograft is unlikely to pose greater risk than does regularly scheduled bronchoscopy after lung transplantation.