This report summarizes 2 years experience in performing 336 autotransplant procedures in 251 consecutive patients with multiple myeloma, using high-dose melphalan at 200 mg/m2 in the context of a tandem transplant program. A total of 91 patients received 118 transplants as outpatients while the remaining 160 patients received 218 transplants as inpatients. Outpatients were more often younger, with better stem cell products, normal serum albumin and β-2-microglobulin levels as well as chemotherapy-sensitive disease compared to inpatients. There were no differences in hematopoietic recovery and non-hematologic toxicities between outpatient and inpatient transplant recipients. Post-transplant febrile neutropenia and most other post-transplant toxicities were managed successfully in an ambulatory setting. Although liberal criteria were developed for hospitalization of outpatients, including clinical parameters as well as patient desire and physician/nurse judgment, only 21% of outpatients required admission after transplantation. Median hospital stay for these outpatients was 9 days, while inpatients were hospitalized for a median of 15 days (P = 0.0001). After adjusting for differences in disease and host features, our study showed outpatient management resulted in significant financial savings due to lower pharmacy (42%), hospitalization (50%) and pathology/laboratory charges (36%). We conclude that outpatient transplants should facilitate access to myeloablative therapy, thereby improving complete remission rates and survival of myeloma patients.
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