Pre-operative infection with organisms from the Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC), particularly B cenocepacia, has been linked with a poorer prognosis after transplantation compared to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) without this infection. Therefore, many transplant centers do not list these patients for transplantation.
We report the early and long-term results of a cohort of lung transplant recipients with CF and pre-operative BCC infection. Patients with pre-transplantation BCC infection were identified by case-note review. BCC species status was assigned by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques. Survival rates were compared to recipients with CF without BCC infection. Survival rates in BCC subgroups were also compared, and then further analyzed pre- and post-2001, when a new immunosuppressive and antibiotic regime was introduced for such patients.
Two hundred sixteen patients with CF underwent lung transplantation and 22 had confirmed pre-operative BCC infection, with 12 of these being B cenocepacia. Nine B cenocepacia–infected recipients died within the first year, and in 8 BCC sepsis was considered to be the cause of death. Despite instituting a tailored peri-operative immunosuppressive and microbiologic care approach for such patients, post-transplantation BCC septic deaths occurred frequently in those with pre-transplantation B cenocepacia infection. In contrast, recipients infected with other BCC species had significantly better outcomes, with post-transplantation survival comparable to other recipients with CF.
Mortality in patients with B cenocepacia infection was unacceptably high and has led to our center no longer accepting patients with this condition onto the lung transplant waiting list. Long-term survival in the non–B cenocepacia BCC group was excellent, without high rates of acute rejection or bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) longer term, and these patients continue to be considered for lung transplantation.