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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Jul;134(1):12-6.

Incidence, site, and outcome of infections in patients with the adult respiratory distress syndrome.


Bacterial infection in the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is associated with the occurrence of multiple organ failures and death. We studied 108 infections in 129 patients with ARDS and evaluated the organisms responsible, the body sites involved, and the outcomes of therapy. Gram-negative bacilli represented 57% of the microbial pathogens and gram-positive cocci 36%. Only 7% of infections were caused by other organisms (fungi, viruses, Pneumocystis, Legionella). Gram-negative organisms were more common in the lung, abdomen, and pleura. Bacteremia was more common in abdominal infections (11 of 17, 67%) than in infections at other sites (18 of 65, 28%), (p less than 0.01); ;9 patients were bacteremic from clinically undetected sites. Ten of 17 (59%) patients with abdominal infections survived compared with 7 of 56 (13%) patients with lung infections (p less than 0.001). A retrospective review of in vitro organism susceptibility and the antibiotics administered revealed that the patients who received adequate antibiotic therapy did not have a higher survival rate (20 of 69, 29%) than those who received inadequate antibiotic therapy (3 of 13, 23%). These data suggest that further investigation of infections in patients with ARDS is required and that emphasis should be placed on pathogenesis, prevention, and host responses.

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