Bronchoscopic Procedures and Lung Biopsies in Pediatric Lung Transplant Recipients

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Bronchoscopy remains a pivotal diagnostic and therapeutic intervention in pediatric patients undergoing lung transplantation (LTx). Whether performed as part of a surveillance protocol or if clinically indicated, fibre-optic bronchoscopy allows direct visualization of the transplanted allograft, and in particular, an assessment of the patency of the bronchial anastomosis (or tracheal anastomosis following heart-lung transplantation). Additionally, bronchoscopy facilitates differentiation of infective processes from rejection episodes through collection and subsequent assessment of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and transbronchial biopsy (TBBx) samples. Indeed, the diagnostic criteria for the grading of acute cellular rejection is dependent upon the histopathological assessment of biopsy samples collected at the time of bronchoscopy. Typically, performed in an out-patient setting, bronchoscopy is generally a safe procedure, although complications related to hemorrhage and pneumothorax are occasionally seen. Airway complications, including stenosis, malacia, and dehiscence are diagnosed at bronchoscopy, and subsequent management including balloon dilatation, laser therapy and stent insertion can also be performed bronchoscopically. Finally, bronchoscopy has been and continues to be an important research tool allowing a better understanding of the immuno-biology of the lung allograft through the collection and analysis of collected BAL and TBBx samples. Whilst new investigational tools continue to evolve, the simple visualization and collection of samples within the lung allograft by bronchoscopy remains the gold standard in the evaluation of the lung allograft. This review describes the use and experience of bronchoscopy following lung transplantation in the pediatric setting.

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