Over 32,000 lung transplants have been performed worldwide for a variety of end-stage lung diseases (http://www.ishlt.org/). Flexible bronchoscopy (FB) is frequently used as a bedside-tool for diagnosis and management of respiratory failure among critically ill lung transplant recipients (LTRs). We study the indications, results, therapeutic impact, and complications of FB in LTRs admitted to medical intensive care unit (MICU).
Retrospective chart review was performed for all critically ill LTRs undergoing FB while admitted to MICU at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation between 2009 and 2011. ICD-9 codes for bronchoscopy were used to identify patients. The procedures were categorized as: (i) airway examination and interventions, (ii) microbiological, and (iii) histopathologic diagnosis. SAS version 9.2 was used for analysis.
A cohort of 76 LTRs accounted for 93 hospital admissions, 101 MICU admissions, and 129 bronchoscopies. FB was helpful in evaluation and management of airway complications [secretion clearance (18% bronchoscopy procedures), stenosis/dehiscence (8% patients)] and optimizing management of lower respiratory tract infections. Isolation of resistant gram-negative organisms, community-acquired respiratory viruses, and fungi commonly led to modification in antimicrobial therapy (35% microbiological samples). Nonspecific finding of acute lung injury was the most commonly seen histopathology (70%) on transbronchial biopsy. Twenty percent (4/20) of transbronchial biopsies showed acute cellular rejection, with 1 episode contributing to respiratory failure. Occasional hypoxia and hypotension, but no deaths, were noted due to FB during the ICU admission.
Use of FB modified clinical management in one third of airway evaluation and microbiological sampling procedures for critically ill LTRs. No fatalities were attributed to bronchoscopy in this critically ill population.