Objective: To evaluate the impact of continuous subglottic suctioning and semi-recumbent body position on bacterial colonisation of the lower respiratory tract.
Design: A randomised controlled trial.
Setting: The ten-bed medical ICU of a French university hospital.
Patients: Critically ill patients expected to require mechanical ventilation for more than 5 days.
Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either continuous suctioning of subglottic secretions and semi-recumbent body position or to receive standard care and supine position.
Measurements and results: Oropharyngeal and tracheal secretions were sampled daily and quantitatively cultured. All included patients were followed up from day 1 (intubation) to day 10, extubation or death. Ninety-seven samples of oropharynx and trachea were analysed (40 for the suctioning group and 57 for the control group). The median bacterial counts in trachea were 6.6 Log10 CFU/ml (interquartile range, IQR, 4.4-8.3) in patients who received continuous suctioning and 5.1 Log10 CFU/ml (IQR 3.6-5.5) in control patients. Most of the patients were colonised in the trachea after 1 day of mechanical ventilation (75% in the suctioning group, 80% in the control group). No significant difference was found in the daily bacterial counts in the oropharynx and in the trachea between the two groups of patients.
Conclusion: Tracheal colonisation in long-term mechanically ventilated ICU patients was not modified by the use of continuous subglottic suctioning and semi-recumbent body position.