Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review
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Bronchoscopy-guided antimicrobial therapy for cystic fibrosis.

BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis and treatment of lower respiratory tract infections is the mainstay of management of lung disease in cystic fibrosis (CF). When sputum samples are unavailable, diagnosis relies mainly on cultures from oropharyngeal specimens; however, there are concerns about whether this approach is sensitive enough to identify lower respiratory organisms. Bronchoscopy and related procedures such as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) are invasive but allow the collection of lower respiratory specimens from non-sputum producers. Cultures of bronchoscopic specimens provide a higher yield of organisms compared to those from oropharyngeal specimens. Regular use of bronchoscopy and related procedures may increase the accuracy of diagnosis of lower respiratory tract infections and improve the selection of antimicrobials, which may lead to clinical benefits. This is an update of a previous review that was first published in 2013 and was updated in 2016 and in 2018.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the use of bronchoscopy-guided (also known as bronchoscopy-directed) antimicrobial therapy in the management of lung infection in adults and children with cystic fibrosis.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis Trials Register, compiled from electronic database searches and handsearching of journals and conference abstract books. We also searched three registries of ongoing studies and the reference lists of relevant articles and reviews. The date of the most recent searches was 1 November 2023.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled studies involving people of any age with CF that compared the outcomes of antimicrobial therapies guided by the results of bronchoscopy (and related procedures) versus those guided by any other type of sampling (e.g. cultures from sputum, throat swab and cough swab).

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently selected studies, assessed their risk of bias and extracted data. We contacted study investigators for further information when required. We assessed the certainty of the evidence using the GRADE criteria.

MAIN RESULTS: We included two studies in this updated review. One study enrolled 170 infants under six months of age who had been diagnosed with CF through newborn screening. Participants were followed until they were five years old, and data were available for 157 children. The study compared outcomes for pulmonary exacerbations following treatment directed by BAL versus standard treatment based on clinical features and oropharyngeal cultures. The second study enrolled 30 children with CF aged between five and 18 years and randomised participants to receive treatment based on microbiological results of BAL triggered by an increase in lung clearance index (LCI) of at least one unit above baseline or to receive standard treatment based on microbiological results of oropharyngeal samples collected when participants were symptomatic. We judged both studies to have a low risk of bias across most domains, although the risk of bias for allocation concealment and selective reporting was unclear in the smaller study. In the larger study, the statistical power to detect a significant difference in the prevalence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was low because Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolation in BAL samples at five years of age in both groups were much lower than the expected rate that was used for the power calculation. We graded the certainty of evidence for the key outcomes as low, other than for high-resolution computed tomography scoring and cost-of-care analysis, which we graded as moderate certainty. Both studies reported similar outcomes, but meta-analysis was not possible due to different ways of measuring the outcomes and different indications for the use of BAL. Whether antimicrobial therapy is directed by the use of BAL or standard care may make little or no difference in lung function z scores after two years (n = 29) as measured by the change from baseline in LCI and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) (low-certainty evidence). At five years, the larger study found little or no difference between groups in absolute FEV1 z score or forced vital capacity (FVC) (low-certainty evidence). BAL-directed therapy probably makes little or no difference to any measure of chest scores assessed by computed tomography (CT) scan at either two or five years (different measures used in the two studies; moderate-certainty evidence). BAL-directed therapy may make little or no difference in nutritional parameters or in the number of positive isolates of P aeruginosa per participant per year, but may lead to more hospitalisations per year (1 study, 157 participants; low-certainty evidence). There is probably no difference in average cost of care per participant (either for hospitalisations or total costs) at five years between BAL-directed therapy and standard care (1 study, 157 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). We found no difference in health-related quality of life between BAL-directed therapy and standard care at either two or five years, and the larger study found no difference in the number of isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa per child per year. The eradication rate following one or two courses of eradication treatment and the number of pulmonary exacerbations were comparable in the two groups. Mild adverse events, when reported, were generally well tolerated. The most common adverse event reported was transient worsening of cough after 29% of procedures. Significant clinical deterioration was documented during or within 24 hours of BAL in 4.8% of procedures.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: This review, limited to two well-designed randomised controlled studies, shows no evidence to support the routine use of BAL for the diagnosis and management of pulmonary infection in preschool children with CF compared to the standard practice of providing treatment based on results of oropharyngeal culture and clinical symptoms. No evidence is available for adults.

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