Long-term survival following hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) in childhood continues to improve, and patients are thus increasingly faced with the late effects of treatment. Infertility is very common for both males and females following HSCT and is one of the most distressing sequelae. Adoption and surrogate egg or sperm donation are possibilities for some patients, but post-HSCT reversal of gonadal failure is not possible. We have recently initiated an oncofertility program with a dedicated practitioner with specific expertise in this area. Our practice is for her to meet with all families and age-appropriate patients during the pre-HSCT evaluation period. This allows patients and families to be accurately informed about the expected treatment-related infertility risk and the available options for fertility preservation. Sperm banking and egg or embryo cryopreservation are established approaches but are not achievable for many children and adolescents. Recently, the harvesting and cryopreservation of ovarian and testicular tissue represents a novel surgical option that allows for the possibility of fertility preservation to be extended to children of all ages. The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate the safety of these procedures proximal to conditioning therapy and HSCT. This is a retrospective report on a consecutive cohort of all patients aged 0 to 25 years who, after discussion with our oncofertility specialist, chose to undergo surgical fertility preservation (laparoscopic unilateral oophorectomy or testicular biopsy) at our institution between March 2018 and April 2020. These procedures occurred under general anesthesia at the time of central line placement prior to the initiation of HSCT conditioning. We assess the safety of the procedures in terms of postoperative complications and impact on HSCT course. Twenty-two patients underwent fertility preservation surgical procedures. Thirteen patients (59%) were female, median age 13 years (1 to 22 years), and 9 (41%) were male, median age 8 years (5 to 12 years). Fourteen (63%) were prepubertal and 8 (36%) pubertal. HSCT indications were hematologic malignancies/solid tumor (40%) and nonmalignant diseases (60%). Most received an allogenic graft (68%) and 81% had myeloablative conditioning. All patients became neutropenic at a median of 10 days (0 to 51 days) from the surgical procedure; 1 was neutropenic at the time of testicular tissue cryopreservation (TTC). The mean duration for the procedures performed, including ovarian tissue cryopreservation (OTC) or TTC, was 98 minutes (49 to 260 minutes) and 97 minutes (56 to 178 minutes), respectively. Estimated blood loss was minimal and no postoperative site infections occurred. One postprocedure, blood culture-negative fever was reported without an identifiable source; the patient completed 48 hours of antibiotics with resolution of fever. Sixty-two percent of females and 56% of males started conditioning within 24 hours of OTC/TTC (15 hours to 113 days; median, 1 day). The median time to engraftment was 22 days (9 to 33 days) in females and 17 days (11 to 67 days) in males, consistent with our institutional benchmarks. One patient with aplastic anemia had primary graft failure, attributed to low cell dose. This patient engrafted after a second transplant from an alternative donor but ultimately died of multiorgan failure. He was neutropenic for over 60 days and never experienced surgical site infection. There were no procedure-related delays to start of conditioning or to discharge. Children of all ages can now be offered the possibility of fertility preservation following HSCT for benign and malignant conditions. Our review suggests that these procedure for both females and males can be performed close to the start of conditioning, which allows for coupling with central access placement. These procedures appear to be safe and do not add to transplant-related morbidity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Medicine