BACKGROUND - Traditionally, children with malignant disease who present with fever and neutropenia are hospitalized for parenteral antibiotics. More recently, outpatient strategies have been proposed for lower risk cohorts of such patients. The authors sought to identify clinical and laboratory parameters that are associated with a low risk of bacteremia in children with malignant disease who presented with febrile neutropenia.
METHODS - A multicenter, retrospective cohort of children with malignant disease and fever with neutropenia was established in three pediatric oncology centers over a 5-year period. A total of 1171 episodes of febrile neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count [ANC] < 500 cells per mm(3)) were identified in children with malignant disease age > 1 year. The endpoints examined were 1) bacteremia and 2) intensive care unit admission or death related to bacteremia. The odds ratio was used to determine which of the following admission parameters and cut-off values were associated with the lowest risk for bacteremia: ANC, absolute phagocyte count (APC), absolute monocyte count (AMC), platelet count, and admission temperature.
RESULTS - A total of 189 episodes of bacteremia were identified among the 1171 episodes of febrile neutropenia (14% bacteremia). Only 11 of 1171 episodes (0.9%) resulted in intensive care unit admission, and 3 of these patients died. All 11 patients had an AMC < 30 cells per mm(3). The lowest frequency of bacteremia (6.1%) occurred in the children with an admission AMC of > or = 155 cells per mm(3). None of the patients identified as low risk by AMC required an intensive care unit admission or died. No level of ANC, APC, temperature, or platelet count was associated with a statistically significant decrease in the risk for bacteremia in the patient population.
CONCLUSIONS - Adverse outcomes due to bacteremia are infrequent in pediatric oncology patients who present with fever and neutropenia are treated with parental antibiotics. Patients with fever and neutropenia and an AMC value of > or = 155 cells per mm(3) have the lowest risk for bacteremia and may be potential candidates for outpatient management.
Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.