New Approaches to the Risk of Candida in the Intensive Care Unit

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2003 Dec;16(6):533-7. doi: 10.1097/00001432-200312000-00004.


Purpose of review: Candidemia is the fourth most common bloodstream infection in the United States with similar trends reported worldwide. This infection is particularly relevant in the intensive care setting, and is independently associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Identification of patients at risk and developing new prophylactic strategies is a priority area of research. This review focuses on recent advances in risk identification and the groundwork for prophylaxis of invasive candidiasis in the intensive care setting.

Recent findings: Although risk factors for invasive candidiasis have been clearly identified (such as colonization, length of stay, use of parenteral nutrition, antibiotics, central lines, and abdominal surgery), there are few risk assessment strategies that clearly define or predict a population at high risk of getting this disease. Currently available risk assessment strategies are yet to be validated in multiple centers and settings. Geographically limited or population specific clinical trials (such as surgical patients) have shown early indications that antifungal prophylaxis is useful in reducing the incidence of invasive candidiasis by more than 50% in units with high incidence of infection, or in carefully selected high-risk patients. Interesting advances in non-culture diagnostic methods and surrogate markers of infection may also have an impact in early identification of infection and preemptive treatment.

Summary: Invasive candidiasis is a relevant problem in the intensive care setting. Better risk assessment strategies will permit identification of the subpopulations of patients that would benefit from prophylactic antifungal therapy the most, having the potential to save millions of lives and dollars.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Candidiasis / etiology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors