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Haematologica. 2002 Mar;87(3):292-8.

Predicting factors for admission to an intensive care unit and clinical outcome in pediatric patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, BMT Unit, NiƱo Jesus Children's Hospital, Menendez Pelayo 65, 28009 Madrid, Spain.



In children, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) implies life-threatening complications and some patients need admission to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Few studies have been reported analyzing this issue in a pediatric population and most focused on risk factors predicting survival following PICU admission.


We examined data of 240 pediatric patients who received HSCT (100 allogeneic and 140 autologous) in order to ascertain the incidence of life-threatening complications requiring PICU admission, the contributing risk factors and the patients' long-term survival.


Forty-two (17.5%) (25 males and 17 females) of the transplanted children were admitted to the PICU. Twenty-nine of them (69%) had received an allogeneic transplant and thirteen (31%) an autologous transplant. Their median age was 7 years (range; 1-18). The most frequent reason for admission was respiratory failure (37 cases, 88%). The overall probability of developing complications requiring PICU admission was 21.2% (33.5% for allogeneic transplantation and 10.1% for patients receiving autologous grafts, p=0.0002). On univariate analysis, only the type of transplantation was significantly associated with PICU admission (allogeneic vs autologous RR 1.92, 95% CI: 1.46-2.53)(p = 0.0001). In allogeneic transplants, only the underlying disease (non-malignant) and the status of disease at transplantation within malignant diseases (advanced phase) were pretransplant variables associated with PICU admission. Post-transplantation risk factors were presence of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) (p = 0.046) and its grade (II-IV) (p = 0.002), as well as the presence of multiorgan dysfunction during the early post-infusion phase especially when the lung was the first failing organ (p = 0.0001). However, on multivariate analysis, only severe GvHD was statistically significant. In the autologous transplantation group, the underlying disease (solid tumor, p = 0.07) and status at transplantation (advanced phase, p = 0.0029) were the only risk factors. In the post-transplant phase, patients who develop multiorgan dysfunction during the neutropenic period and those with engraftment syndrome had an increased risk of requiring critical care. The overall event-free survival (EFS) at 3 years was 15.3%, (18.4% for autologous transplant recipients and 13.7% for those receiving an allogeneic graft, p = 0.4). Using a Cox regression model, multiorgan failure (MOF) present at admission was the only variable that had a negative impact on EFS (4.28% vs 35.71% for patients with no MOF, p = 0.016).


Despite high mortality, intensive care support can be beneficial for pediatric patients with life-threatening complications following HSCT. However, for patients with multiorgan failure involving the lungs, admission to the PICU should be avoided.

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