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Utility of Transbronchial Biopsy in the Immunocompromised Host With New Pulmonary Radiographic Abnormalities



      To assess how often transbronchial biopsy (TBBx) added unique positive findings apart from other synchronous bronchoscopic sampling techniques including the bronchoalveolar lavage–immunocompromised host (BAL-ICH) panel that justified changes in management in an array of immunocompromised patients with new pulmonary radiographic abnormalities.


      We retrospectively reviewed all bronchoscopies performed at Mayo Clinic Rochester between January 2012 and December 2017; on the basis of the physician’s selection of a BAL-ICH panel, we identified 192 immunocompromised patients who underwent bronchoscopy with both a BAL-ICH panel and TBBx. The results of the BAL-ICH panel and TBBx were compared and subsequent management decisions analyzed from clinical notes. We identified changes in immunosuppressive agents, antibiotics, chemotherapy, goals of care, and decisions on further evaluation and procedures. We assessed whether the TBBx findings added information not identified on the BAL-ICH panel and other bronchoscopic sampling methods performed during the same procedure that justified subsequent management changes.


      Of 192 bronchoscopic procedures performed on immunocompromised patients with acute and subacute pulmonary radiographic abnormalities, management changes justified by the unique positive results of the TBBx occurred 28% (51/192) of the time. Those immunocompromised by solid malignant neoplasms and receiving active immunosuppressive therapy had management changes justified 62.1% (18/29) of the time by the TBBx results. No additional fungal organisms were identified on TBBx that were accounted for on the BAL-ICH panel.


      Transbronchial biopsy may add information to other bronchoscopic findings in immunocompromised patients, especially those with solid malignant neoplasms receiving active immunosuppressive treatment. These potential benefits must be weighed against the risks inherent to the procedure.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BAL (bronchoalveolar lavage), BAL-ICH (bronchoalveolar lavage–immunocompromised host panel), EBUS-TBNA (endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration), HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplant), ICH (immunocompromised host), PCR (polymerase chain reaction), TBBx (transbronchial biopsy)
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