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Chest. 1998 Feb;113(2):412-20.

The influence of mini-BAL cultures on patient outcomes: implications for the antibiotic management of ventilator-associated pneumonia.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo 63110, USA.



To determine the influence of mini-BAL culture results on subsequent changes in antibiotic therapy and patient outcomes.


Prospective, single-center, cohort study.


Medical ICU of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, a university-affiliated teaching hospital.


One hundred thirty mechanically ventilated patients undergoing mini-BAL for suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).


Mini-BAL, prospective patient surveillance, and data collection.


Sixty (46.2%) patients had mini-BAL cultures that yielded at least one pathogen potentially accounting for the clinically suspected episode of VAP (64 bacterial, 3 viral, 2 fungal). Among the 60 patients with microbiologically positive mini-BAL cultures, 44 (73.3%) were classified as receiving inadequate antibiotic therapy (ie, identification of a microorganism resistant to the prescribed antibiotic regimen). Prior antibiotic administration or its absence remained unchanged in 51 (39.2%) patients based on the mini-BAL culture results, while in another 51 (39.2%) patients, antibiotic therapy was either begun (n=7) or the existing antibiotic regimen was changed (n=44), and in the remaining 28 (21.6%) patients, antibiotic therapy was discontinued altogether. The hospital mortality rates of these three groups were statistically different: 33.3%, 60.8%, and 14.3%, respectively (p<0.001). The most common pattern of antibiotic resistance resulting in an antibiotic change following mini-BAL was the identification of a Gram-negative bacteria resistant to a prescribed third-generation cephalosporin in 23 of 44 (52.3%) patients. Twenty-one of these 23 patients (91.3%) received prior therapy with a cephalosporin class antibiotic during the same hospitalization. Having an immunocompromised state (adjusted odds ratio [OR]=2.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.56 to 3.85; p=0.047) and the presence of a pathogen in the mini-BAL culture resistant to the empirically prescribed antibiotic regimen (adjusted OR=3.28; 95% confidence interval, 2.12 to 5.06; p=0.006) were identified as risk factors independently associated with hospital mortality by logistic regression analysis.


These data suggest that antibiotic selection prior to obtaining the results of lower airway cultures is an important determinant of outcome for patients with suspected VAP. A delay in initiating adequate antibiotic therapy was associated with a greater mortality. Therefore, the initial selection of antibiotics for the empiric treatment of VAP should be broad enough to cover all likely pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This appears to be especially important in patients having received prior antibiotics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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