Emergency department presentation and management of pediatric heart transplant recipients

Richard Chinnock, Thomas Sherwin, Sharon Robie, Marti Baum, Donald Janner, Larry Mellick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The object of this study was to review and delineate the presenting complaints, signs, symptoms, and Emergency Department (ED) management of pediatric heart transplant recipients who presented to Loma Linda University Medical Center’s (LLUMC) Emergency Department. A retrospective chart review was made of all of the pediatric heart transplant patients who presented to the ED at LLUMC from January 1986 through February 1993. The department is part of a 600-bed university hospital with an associated 250-bed children’s hospital that includes a pediatric heart transplant center and an ED that sees over 38,000 patients per year. The retrospective review collected information relating to chief complaint, physical findings, laboratory analysis, and diagnoses. Forty-seven patients (23%) presented to the ED for a total of 76 visits. The patients presented a median of 278 days (range 19 days to 6.5 years) after transplantation. The most common chief complaints were related to the respiratory tract, and the most common diagnoses (55%) were related to infectious processes. Fever was present in 21% of the visits. Three of 13 blood cultures obtained were positive. Cardiac symptoms were present in 14% of the visits with two rejection episodes. Hospital admission was required for 22 (29%) of the ED visits. Results showed that pediatric heart transplant recipients are most likely to present to the ED with infections. Although infections from opportunistic organisms and bacteremia must be considered, most infections are similar to those in the nontransplanted child. Life-threatening conditions such as graft rejection are less likely. Nevertheless, the emergency physician should maintain caution in the evaluation of these patients. Close cooperation and consultation with the transplant team will assure the optimal outcome for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • ED presentation
  • Heart transplant recipients
  • Management of transplant recipients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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