Early and late complications following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in pediatric patients – A retrospective analysis over 11 years

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has been an effective method for treating a wide range of malignant or non-malignant disorders. In case of an autologous HSCT, patients receive their own stem cells after myeloablation before extraction. Allogeneic HSCT uses stem cells derived from a donor. Despite being associated with a high risk of early and long-term complications, it is often the last curative option.

229 pediatric patients, who between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2015 received an HSCT at the University Children’s Hospital Wuerzburg, were studied. Correlations between two groups were calculated with the Chi square test or with a 2×2-contingency table. To calculate metric variables, the Mann-Whitney-U-test was used. Survival curves were calculated according to Kaplan and Meier. Significance was assumed for results with a p-value <0.05 (CI (Confident Interval) 95%). We retrospectively analyzed 229 pediatric patients (105 females, 124 males) for early and late complications of allogeneic and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Median age at HSCT was seven years. Underlying diseases were leukemia (n = 73), lymphoma (n = 22), solid tumor (n = 65), CNS (central nervous system)- tumor (n = 41), and “other diseases” (n = 28). Survival times, overall survival, and event-free survival were calculated.

Of all patients, 80.8% experienced complications of some degree, including mild and transient complications. Allo-HSCT (allogeneic HSCT) carried a significantly higher risk of complications than auto-HSCT (autologous HSCT) (n = 118 vs. n = 67; p = < .001) and the remission rate after allo-HSCT was also higher (58.7% vs. 44,7%; p = .032). Especially infection rates and pulmonary complications are different between auto- and allo-HSCT. Leukemia patients had the highest risk of early and late complications (95,0%; p < .001). Complications within HSCT are major risk factors following morbidity and mortality.

In order to detect complications and risk factors early, strict recordings are needed to reduce the rate of complication by recognition and prevention of triggering factors. In the future, these factors should receive greater attention in the planning of HSCT post-transplantation care in order to improve the results of the transplantation and establish protocols to prevent their occurrence.