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Treat Respir Med. 2005;4(5):317-24.

Prevention and treatment of aspiration pneumonia in intensive care units.

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  • 1Service de Réanimation Médicale et Maladies Infectieuses, Centre Hospitalier de Tourcoing, Tourcoing, France.


Aspiration is a leading cause of nosocomial infection in the intensive care unit. Techniques to avoid or reduce aspiration are important in preventing pneumonia and pneumonitis. The most important preventive measures include the semi-recumbent position, the surveillance of enteral feeding, the use of promotility agents, and avoiding excessive sedation. The analysis of the pathogens involved in these syndromes usually shows a minor role for the anerobes. With regard to treatment, aspiration pneumonitis does not require any antimicrobials; on the contrary, aspiration pneumonia has to be treated. Empiric antimicrobials treatment should be started on clinical suspicion. The choice of the drug has to be guided by local pathogen epidemiology and clinical features; in fact, community type pneumonia requires a first-line antimicrobial such as amoxicillin/clavulanic acid. On the contrary, a nosocomial type of infection needs to be treated as a ventilator-associated pneumonia in agreement with published guidelines. Nevertheless, quantitative culture should be obtained in order to de-escalate antimicrobials. In conclusion, aspiration pneumonia is a frequently encountered disease that can be prevented by relatively simple measures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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