BACKGROUND Respiratory function in transplanted children is important because of the long life expectancy of bone marrow transplant recipients, particularly children. Attention is now being focused on the late sequelae of treatment on organ system function. A few papers have been published but available data are somewhat conflicting.
METHODS A cross sectional study aimed at evaluating the late effects of transplantation on lung function was performed in a group of 52 young patients who were given autologous or allogeneic bone marrow transplants during childhood for haematological malignancies.
RESULTS No patients reported chronic respiratory symptoms. The distribution of respiratory function patterns showed that only 62% of patients had respiratory function within the normal limits; 23% had a restrictive pattern and 15% had isolated transfer factor impairment. The percentage of patients with lung function abnormalities was higher in those who (1) received a bone marrow transplant after two or three complete remissions compared with those who were transplanted immediately after the first remission (54% vs 21%; p<0.02), (2) underwent allogeneic bone marrow transplantation rather than an autologous transplantation (45% vs 26%; p = 0.06), and (3) had a pulmonary infection compared with those without (56% vs 26%; p = 0.07).
CONCLUSIONS In spite of the absence of chronic respiratory symptoms there is a high prevalence of children with late pulmonary sequelae after bone marrow transplantation. Regular testing is recommended after transplantation, in particular in subjects at higher risk of lung injuries, such as those receiving transplants after more than one remission, those receiving allogeneic transplants, and those having suffered from pulmonary infections. When lung function abnormalities become apparent, long term follow up is necessary to see whether they become clinically relevant. All patients should remain non-smokers after transplantation and should have active early and aggressive treatment for respiratory illnesses.
- bone marrow transplantation
- lung function
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