Bacterial infections after pediatric heart transplantation: Epidemiology, risk factors and outcomes

Rostad, C. A.; Wehrheim, K.; Kirklin, J. K.; Naftel, D.; Pruitt, E.; Hoffman, T. M.; L'Ecuyer, T.; Berkowitz, K.; Mahle, W. T.; Scheel, J. N.

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2017 Jun 7; 36(9):996-1003


BACKGROUND: Bacterial infections represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality in heart transplant recipients. However, data describing the epidemiology and outcomes of these infections in children are limited. METHODS: We analyzed the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study database of patients transplanted between 1993 and 2014 to determine the etiologies, risk factors and outcomes of children with bacterial infections post-heart transplantation. RESULTS: Of 4,458 primary transplants in the database, there were 4,815 infections that required hospitalization or intravenous therapy, 2,047 (42.51%) of which were bacterial. The risk of bacterial infection was highest in the first month post-transplant, and the bloodstream was the most common site (24.82%). In the early post-transplant period (<30 days post-transplant), coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common pathogens (16.97%), followed by Enterobacter sp (11.99%) and Pseudomonas sp (11.62%). In the late post-transplant period, community-acquired pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (6.27%) and Haemophilus influenzae (2.82%) were also commonly identified. Patients' characteristics independently associated with acquisition of bacterial infection included younger age (p < 0.0001) and ventilator (p < 0.0001) or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (p = 0.03) use at time of transplant. Overall mortality post-bacterial infection was 33.78%, and previous cardiac surgery (p < 0.001) and multiple sites of infection (p = 0.004) were independent predictors of death. CONCLUSIONS: Bacteria were the most common causes of severe infections in pediatric heart transplant recipients and were associated with high mortality rates. The risk of acquiring a bacterial infection was highest in the first month post-transplant, and a large proportion of the infections were caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens.

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