Prolonged chemotherapy-induced neutropenia is a major risk factor for the development of severe bacterial and fungal infections. Infectious manifestations may progress despite adequate anti-infectious treatment and lead to a very high short-term mortality. Granulocyte transfusion (GT) therapy is often considered. However, its efficacy is not well documented.
We retrospectively analyzed the clinical characteristics and outcome of a cohort of patients with haematological malignancies receiving GT during neutropenia and severe infection.
A total of 30 patients with a median age of 46 y (range 3-82 y) who had received 1 or more GT were included. Acute leukaemia (80%) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (17%) predominated as the underlying malignancy. All patients had severe and prolonged (median 16 days) neutropenia. The major indications for GT were persistent fever and clinical deterioration despite broad anti-infectious therapy, in combination with progressive pneumonia (n = 16), neutropenic enterocolitis (n = 6), and soft tissue infections (n = 3). GTs were given for a median of 3 transfusions (range 1-14). The median time to fever defervescence after GT was 14 days (range 6-33 days). For 11 patients, the resolution of fever and all signs of infection could directly be related to GT, and 3 of these patients became long-term survivors. Mortality at 30 days post-GT was 40% and at 6 months post-GT was 72%. GT was well tolerated.
A substantial proportion of severely ill neutropenic patients appeared to benefit from GT. The results further underline the need for well- designed, randomized, prospective trials to determine the efficacy of this intervention in patients with life-threatening infectious complications.
2013. Vol. 45, no 2, 112-116 p.