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J Clin Invest. 1973 Nov;52(11):2935-40.

Prevention of gram-negative bacillary pneumonia using aerosol polymyxin as prophylaxis. I. Effect on the colonization pattern of the upper respiratory tract of seriously ill patients.


A prospective study used polymyxin B by aerosol to reduce colonization of the upper respiratory tract with nosocomial gram-negative bacilli. 58 high-risk patients from the Respiratory-Surgical Intensive Care Unit entered the trial. 33 were randomly selected to receive 2.5 mg/kg/day of polymyxin B by hand atomizer into the pharynx, and tracheal tube if present. 17 of 25 control patients became colonized with gram-negative bacilli as compared with 7 of 33 polymyxin-treated patients (p < 0.01). Control patients became colonized with a total of 33 gram-negative bacilli: 3 were Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 21 were species of Enterobacteriaceae. The polymyxin-treated patients became colonized with a total of 11 gram-negative bacilli: no P. aeruginosa and only 3 species of Enterobacteriaceae were recovered. Colonization increased with duration in Respiratory-Surgical Intensive Care Unit and with time of required controlled ventilation. Polymyxin most effectively prevented the increase in colonization in treated patients who stayed in the Respiratory-Surgical Intensive Care Unit for longer than 1 wk and who required controlled ventilation for at least 72 h.

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