Pulmonary complications after bone marrow transplantation: an autopsy study from a large transplantation center

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2005 Mar;129(3):366-71. doi: 10.5858/2005-129-366-PCABMT.


Context: Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is used to treat various malignant and nonmalignant disorders. Pulmonary complications are some of the most common causes of mortality in BMT recipients. Poor general health and bleeding tendency frequently preclude the use of definitive diagnostic tests, such as open lung biopsy, in these patients.

Objective: To identify pulmonary complications after BMT and their role as the cause of death (COD).

Design: The autopsy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) slides and microbiology studies of BMT recipients from a 7-year period were reviewed.

Results: Pulmonary complications were identified in 40 (80%) of the 50 cases. The most common complications were diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) and diffuse alveolar hemorrhage (DAH). Pulmonary complications were the sole or 1 of multiple CODs in 37 cases (74%). All complications were more common in allogeneic BMT recipients. In 19 (51%) of the 37 cases in which pulmonary complications contributed to the death, cultures were negative. Both DAD and DAH, complications commonly reported in the early post-BMT period, were seen more than 100 days after BMT in 33% and 12% of cases, respectively. Five (83%) of 6 cases of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis diagnosed at autopsy were negative for fungi ante mortem (by BAL and cultures).

Conclusions: Pulmonary complications are a significant COD in BMT recipients, many of which, especially the fungal infections, are difficult to diagnose ante mortem. The etiology of DAD and DAH is likely to be multifactorial, and these complications are not limited to the early posttransplantation period. Autopsy examination is important in determining the COD in BMT recipients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aspergillosis / diagnosis
  • Aspergillosis / mortality
  • Aspergillus / isolation & purification
  • Autopsy*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / mortality
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / microbiology
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology*
  • Transplantation, Homologous / mortality