Context.—

There is a paucity of literature about tissue granulomas in transplant patients.

Objective.—

To characterize the clinicopathologic features of granulomas in this population and develop a clinically judicious approach to their evaluation.

Design.—

We performed chart reviews of solid organ and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients at Yale New Haven Hospital to identify patients with granulomas on biopsy obtained pathologic specimens. Pretransplant and posttransplant specimens were included. Data points included demographics, clinical presentation, epidemiologic risk factors, biopsy indication, location and timing, immunosuppression, histopathology, microbiology, and associated clinical diagnosis. Granuloma-related readmissions and mortality were recorded at 1, 3, and 12 months.

Results.—

Biopsy proven granulomas were identified in 56 of 2139 (2.6%) patients. Of 56, 16 (29%) were infectious. Common infectious etiologies were bartonellosis (n = 3) and cytomegalovirus hepatitis (n = 3). Tuberculosis was not identified. Clinical symptoms prompted tissue biopsy in 27 of 56 (48.2%) cases while biopsies were obtained for evaluation of incidental findings or routine disease surveillance in 29 of 56 (51.8%). Presence of symptoms was significantly associated with infectious etiologies; 11 of 27 (40.7%) symptomatic patients compared with 5 of 29 (17.2%) asymptomatic patients had infectious causes. One death from granulomatous cryptogenic organizing pneumonia occurred. In pretransplant asymptomatic patients, no episodes of symptomatic disease occurred posttransplantation.

Conclusions.—

Granulomas were uncommon in a large transplant population; most were noninfectious but presence of symptoms was associated with infectious etiologies. Granulomas discovered pretransplant without clear infectious etiology likely do not require prolonged surveillance after transplantation. Symptomatology and epidemiologic risks factors should guide extent of microbiologic evaluation.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.