Pathogenic bacteria in bronchoalveolar lavage cultures and pediatric laryngotracheal reconstruction outcomes

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Objective: The primary objective was to determine if treating pathogenic bacteria in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cultures improves outcomes after pediatric double stage laryngotracheal reconstruction (dsLTR). Study Design: Case series with chart review. Setting: Tertiary children's hospital. Methods: All children (<18 years) obtaining flexible bronchoscopy with BAL cultures before dsLTR between 2016 and 2022 were included. Cultures identified abnormal bacterial growth or normal respiratory flora. Thirty-day postoperative surgical site or lung infections were captured and tracheostomy decannulation rates were obtained for children with at least 12 months of follow-up. Results: Twenty-seven children obtained presurgical BAL cultures before dsLTR. Median age at reconstruction was 2.9 years (interquartile range: 2.3−3.5) and 89% (24/27) had high grade subglottic stenosis. Positive cultures were obtained in 56% of children (N = 15) with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (40%, 6/15) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (33%, 5/15) the most frequent organisms. All children with positive cultures were treated based on culture and sensitivity data. Postoperative infections developed in 22% (6/27) of children with equal distribution of surgical site and respiratory infections among children with pathogenic bacteria and normal respiratory flora. At 12 months after surgery, the decannulation rate was no different between those treated and not treated for a presurgical positive BAL culture (47% vs. 58%, p = 0.70). Conclusion: Pathogenic bacteria are common in BAL cultures from tracheostomy-dependent children before dsLTR. Treatment keeps respiratory infections and decannulation rates similar to children with negative cultures, suggesting continued benefit of flexible bronchoscopy and BAL in preparation for these surgeries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric pulmonology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • bronchoalveolar lavage
  • open airway surgery
  • pathogenic bacteria
  • pediatric laryngotracheal reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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