Background: Pulmonary complications often occur in patients with leukemia and severe aplastic anemia. Particularly in patients having undergone bone marrow transplantation, respiratory diseases account for a significant number of deaths. In a retrospective study, we evaluated 41 patients with leukemia and severe aplastic anemia who were operated on consecutively from 1980 to 1995.
Methods: Fourteen open lung biopsies, four video-assisted lung biopsies, and 24 lung resections were performed in 24 male and 17 female patients. Mean age was 32.2 years.
Results: Eleven (27%) early deaths occurred (30-day mortality): ten in patients after lung biopsy (56%) and one after lung resection (4%) (p < 0.001). Perioperative morbidity relating to pulmonary disease or operation included 10 (24.4%) cases of prolonged (> 24 hours) postoperative mechanical ventilation and two (4.8%) cases of bleeding or hematoma. In one (2.4%) patient a slowly developing, contained bronchial stump insufficiency appeared after lobectomy, which was successfully operated on 3 weeks later.
Conclusion: We conclude that resection of localized pulmonary lesions, be it for diagnostic or therapeutic (or combined) purposes, can be carried out with low morbidity and mortality in patients with leukemia and severe aplastic anemia. However, early mortality is high after open or thoracoscopic lung biopsies in patients with acute-onset diffuse pulmonary disease, and little therapeutic benefit is realized in these cases.