Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus (PIV) can cause significant morbidity and mortality in lung and heart-lung transplant recipients. We evaluated the utility of a multi-drug protocol for the treatment of RSV- and PIV-related infections.
Patients and methods: RSV or PIV was identified in 25 patients with a total of 29 infectious episodes between January 2006 and December 2007. The study included 20 women and 5 men, mean age 42 +/- 13 years. Fifteen patients had received bilateral lung transplant and the remainder either received single lung or heart-lung transplant. Mean time from transplant to infection was 1192 days. RSV was identified in 23 cases, PIV in 7 cases. Patients underwent treatment with inhaled ribavirin, methylprednisolone, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). RSV-positive patients were also treated with palivizumab. We retrospectively evaluated their clinical status and pulmonary function for a 1-year interval before and after the date of infection.
Results: Average baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) before infection was 2.14 +/- 0.68 L/min. Average decline in FEV(1) was 5.7% at the time of infection. Average FEV(1) during post-treatment follow-up was not significantly different than baseline (2.16 +/- 0.80 L/min). Among patients with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) stages 1, 2, or 3 at the time of infection, average FEV(1) declined by 14.8% and remained lower at 9.1% during follow-up when compared with patients with BOS stages 0 or 0p. No complications resulted from treatment. One patient died during follow-up as a result of pre-existing liver failure.
Conclusions: This study of lung and heart-lung transplant recipients infected with RSV and PIV shows that a multi-drug regimen including inhaled ribavirin, corticosteroids, and IVIG (with or without palivizumab) is safe and effective. Prompt diagnosis and therapy for patients with RSV or PIV infections are critical for maintaining lung function.