Autopsy findings in bone marrow transplantation

Denis H. Moir, J. J. Turner, D. D. F. Ma, J. C. Biggs, St Vincent’S Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Autopsies were performed on 2 patients with aplastic anaemia and 7 with acute leukaemia dying after bone marrow transplantation. Neutropenic enterocolitis was found in 2 of the 3 early deaths occurring before marrow engraftment and was related to radiation or cytotoxic drug damage to the bowel mucosa in the presence of profound neutropenia, allowing infection by bowel organisms. Cytomegaloviral infection was universal in engrafted patients. One had cytomegaloviral (CMV) pneumonia, one CMV hepatitis and enteritis and one CMV enteritis. Three patients had occasional CMV inclusions in various organs without obvious harmful effects. One nonengrafted patient also had CMV pneumonia. Graft versus host disease (GVHD) was a significant finding in 4 engrafted patients. This was difficult to separate histologically from the effects of CMV in the bowel, but easier in liver and skin. The skin changes of GVHD were the most easily interpretable. Interstitial pneumonia was due to CMV in one nonengrafted and one engrafted patient and had no obvious infective cause in 2 engrafted patients. The presence of bizarre epithelial cells in the lungs of these patients suggested an aetiological role for radiation or cytotoxic drugs. Modification of the conditioning regimen may reduce tissue damage and lessen many of these side-effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • Autopsy
  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Enterocolitis
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Interstitial pneumonia
  • Neutropenia
  • Radiation


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