SAN DIEGO – In the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) with targeted phenotype analysis often leads to specific changes in patient management, similar to what is seen when rWGS is applied to neonatal ICUs. The findings come from the first study to look at outcomes of rWGS in the PICU outside of infancy.
In the NICU, previous studies have shown an rWGS diagnostic rate ranging from 36% to 57%, and an estimated 49%-72% of these diagnoses result in changes to patient management; 38%-45% of those diagnoses had not been previously considered.
The researchers found similar benefits when the age of patients was extended to 18 years in the PICU. “We were happy to see we were able to make specific changes in ICU management, with three of those being medication changes based on the diagnosis, and one being in the transition to palliative care while the patient was still in the PICU,” Erica Sanford, MD, said in an interview.
Dr. Sanford is a pediatric clinical care fellow at the University of California, San Diego. She presented the study at the Critical Care Congress sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
Changes as a result of rWGS included factor replacement for a factor XIII deficiency, avoidance of renal biopsy because the diagnosis was made genetically, and use of serial MRI and other imaging methods to identify disorder-related sequela. “We’re hopeful as the turnaround for genome sequencing decreases that we’ll be able to offer this as a test when appropriate when a patient is presenting with an illness that doesn’t have a clear etiologic diagnosis,” said Dr. Sanford.
Certainly not every patient in the PICU should undergo rWGS, given its expense. Although the study was too small to identify candidate patients, there were some trends – patients in cardiac arrest were more likely to be receiving a genetic diagnosis. “We weren’t able to answer the question of which patients in the pediatric ICU should get whole genome sequencing – our next step is to have a larger group of patients so we can determine specifically which patients might benefit,” said Dr. Sanford. The team also plans to do a cost analysis of rWGS in the PICU setting.
The researchers examined data from a PICU at a tertiary children’s hospital, including records from 38 patients who underwent rWGS between July 2016 and May 2018. Based on the initial sequencing results, 18 underwent diagnostic rWGS. The average age of children was 5.7 years (median 3 years), with patients ranging from 4 months to 18 years old.
The most common reasons for PICU admission were shock (16% of all patients, 17% of patients who received diagnostic rWGS), respiratory failure (18% and 17%), cardiac arrest (13% and 22%), and altered mental status (13% and 11%).
Eleven of 18 patients (61%) who received an rWGS diagnosis experienced a subacute, non-ICU change in management. Four diagnoses (22%) led to a change in ICU management, and three led to no changes in patient management.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study. Dr. Sanford had no relevant financial disclosures.
SOURCE: Sanford E et al. CCC48, Abstract 373.