Forty episodes of pneumonitis in 30 recipients of allogeneic bone marrow transplants were investigated by fibreoptic bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage. A positive diagnosis was made in 32 episodes of pneumonitis (24 patients), giving a diagnostic yield of 80%. In 31 of these the diagnosis was made within 24 hours of bronchoscopy and this enabled the appropriate treatment to be instituted early. Eighteen patients recovered from their primary infection, although two died subsequently of respiratory failure due to postpneumonic lung destruction. Ten patients later developed a second episode of pneumonitis and a diagnosis was made in nine of these. Only three survived a second episode. Bronchoalveolar lavage was well tolerated by all patients and there was no morbidity or mortality that could be directly attributed to the procedure. Bronchoalveolar lavage is a safe and valuable early diagnostic procedure for the investigation of pulmonary complications in patients who have received bone marrow transplants.
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