Background. Patients with childhood cancer or primary immunodeficiencies (PID) are at high risk for developing pulmonary infections and non-infectious complications. The broad differential diagnoses and the critical condition of these patients often drive physicians to start broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy before a definite diagnostic procedure is performed. A definite diagnosis may be achieved in these situations by fiberoptic bronchoscopy (FOB) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Patients and Methods. The records of 58 PIDs and cancer (immunocompromised group) pediatric patients who underwent 62 fiberoptic bronchoscopies between 2000 and 2004 were retrospectively reviewed and compared to 158 non-cancer patients who underwent 182 fiberoptic bronchoscopies during the same period. Results. The overall diagnostic rate achieved by macroscopic inspection of purulent secretions or hemorrhage, abnormal cell count, and infectious agent isolation in the immunocompromised patients was 84%. A definite organism was recovered in 53.2% of the patients. Probable infection defined as purulent secretions or abnormal cell count without infectious agent isolation was diagnosed in another 21% of the patients. The rate of complications was 30.6%. In the control group, the overall diagnostic rate was 76.9% (n.s) and an infectious agent was demonstrated in 12.1% (P < 0.001). Probable infection was diagnosed in 24.2% (n.s) while the rate of complications was lower (15%) (P < 0.01). Conclusions. Rapid and accurate diagnoses were achieved in most procedures performed on immunocompromised patients. Although the rate of complications was higher in the immunocompromised group, they were usually very mild with no mortality. Based on these results, broncoalveolar lavage should be considered as an initial diagnostic tool in pediatric immunocompromised patients with pulmonary complications.
- Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)
- Fiberoptic bronchoscopy (FOB)
- Immunocompromised host
- Primary immunodeficiency