Intravenous ribavirin for respiratory syncytial viral infections in pediatric hematopoietic SCT recipients

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2013 Feb;48(2):265-8. doi: 10.1038/bmt.2012.134. Epub 2012 Sep 24.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a potential cause of serious morbidity and even mortality among children undergoing hematopoietic SCT (HSCT). Contrary to the available information regarding the aerosolized formulation of ribavirin, there is a paucity of published studies using i.v. ribavirin in adults, and very few single reports on pediatric patients. Aerosolized drug administration has been limited by potential toxicity and special air-flow requirements. In this regard, i.v. ribavirin could prevent these disadvantages, but its efficacy and safety remain controversial in the pediatric HSCT setting. The present study describes the outcome of six pediatric patients undergoing HSCT with nine episodes of proven RSV. Four episodes corresponded to lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) and five presented with upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). All LRTI patients showed favorable clinical responses, with 100% survival and no progression to LRTI in the remaining five URTI. No side effects were documented during ribavirin administration. We conclude that ribavirin was well tolerated intravenously, without associated side effects, and was effective in the treatment of RSV in this limited number of pediatric HSCT patients. The role and efficacy of i.v. ribavirin needs to be further clarified by prospective controlled trials in pediatric populations.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Ribavirin