Pulmonary rehabilitation for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2012 Aug;18(8):1250-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2012.01.017. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a progressive, insidious lung disease affecting allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients. Unfortunately, there is no standardized approach for treatment of BOS in post-hematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a standard treatment in emphysema, an irreversible obstructive lung disease secondary to tobacco abuse. The National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) demonstrated improved exercise tolerance, decrease dyspnea, and increase of quality of life in patients with severe emphysema after pulmonary rehabilitation. We hypothesized that pulmonary rehabilitation may benefit patients with BOS. Patients with BOS were identified retrospectively from January 2005 to the present. Patients who enrolled in pulmonary rehabilitation were included in the study. We obtained summaries via chart review of each patient's progress after pulmonary rehabilitation enrollment from his or her respective rehabilitation centers. Six-minute walk distances, spirometry, and pulmonary symptoms were compared before and after the completion of pulmonary rehabilitation. We identified 11 patients with BOS documented from their pulmonologist's clinical notes who were enrolled into pulmonary rehabilitation. Ten of the 11 patients completed pulmonary rehabilitation. All patients had improvement in their 6-minute walk distances after the completion of pulmonary rehabilitation, with an average improvement in distance of 307 feet (P value = .005). Six of the 10 patients completed Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaires before and after rehabilitation. There was a significant improvement in the physical functioning score (P value = 0.029). Pulmonary rehabilitation seems to improve 6-minute walk distance, subjective symptoms of dyspnea, and exercise tolerance in patients with BOS. This may be an important adjunctive therapy for a debilitating disease with limited treatment options.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / etiology
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / physiopathology
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome