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Scand J Infect Dis. 2009;41(8):548-57. doi: 10.1080/00365540902913478.

Bacterial tracheitis: a multi-centre perspective.

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Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The published literature on bacterial tracheitis is limited. We report the first multi-centre study of bacterial tracheitis together with a concise review of the literature. We conducted a retrospective study of cases admitted during the period 1993-2007 to 3 tertiary paediatric centres in the United Kingdom and 1 in Australia. A total of 34 cases were identified. 31 patients (91%) required intubation. Complications included cardiorespiratory arrest in 1, ARDS in 1, hypotension in 10, toxic shock syndrome in 1 and renal failure in 1 patient(s). Staphylococcus aureus was the most commonly implicated bacterial organism, isolated from the respiratory tract in 55.8% of the cases overall. Other pathogens commonly isolated from the respiratory tract included Streptococcus pyogenes (5.9%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (11.8%) and Haemophilus influenzae (11.8%). Viral coinfection was identified in 9 (31%) of the 29 cases in whom immunofluorescence testing was performed (influenza A in 4 cases; parainfluenza 1 in 2 cases; parainfluenza 3 in 2 cases; adenovirus in 1 case). The combined experience from 4 major paediatric intensive care units suggests that bacterial tracheitis remains a rare condition with an estimated incidence of approximately 0.1/100,000 children per year. Short-term complications were common but long-term sequelae were rare. There were no fatal outcomes, which contrasts with the high historical mortality rates and likely reflects improvements in intensive care management.

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