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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2008 Mar 29;152(13):752-9.

[Less ventilator-associated pneumonia after oral decontamination with chlorhexidine; a randomised trial].

[Article in Dutch]

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Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, Utrecht.



To determine the effect of oral decontamination with either chlorhexidine (CHX, 2%) or the combination chlorhexidine-colistin (CHX-COL, 2%-2%) on the frequency and the time to onset of ventilator-associated pneumonia in Intensive Care patients.


Double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre, randomised trial.


Consecutive ICU patients needing at least 48 h of mechanical ventilation were enrolled in a randomized trial with 3 arms: CHX, CHX-COL, and placebo (PLAC). The trial medication was administered in the oral cavity every 6 h. Oropharyngeal swabs were obtained daily and analysed quantitatively for Gram-positive and Gram-negative microorganisms. Endotracheal colonisation was monitored twice weekly. Ventilator-associated pneumonia was diagnosed on the basis of a combination of clinical, radiological and microbiological criteria.


Of 385 patients included, 130 received PLAC, 127 CHX and 128 CHX-COL. Baseline characteristics in the three groups were comparable. The daily risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia was reduced in both treatment groups compared to PLAC: 65% (HR= 0.352; 95% CI: 0.160-0.791; p = 0.012) for CHX and 55% (HR= 0.454; 95%/ CI: 0.224-0.925; p = 0.030) for CHX-COL. CHX-COL provided a significant reduction in oropharyngeal colonisation with both Gram-negative and Gram-positive microorganisms, whereas CHX significantly affected only colonisation with Gram-positive microorganisms. There were no differences in the duration of mechanical ventilation, ICU-stay or ICU-survival.


Oral decontamination of the oropharyngeal cavity with chlorhexidine or the combination chlorhexidine-colistin reduced the incidence and the time to onset ofventilator-associated pneumonia.

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