Objective: To assess the efficacy of a preemptive antifungal therapy in preventing proven candidiasis in critically ill surgical patients.
Design: Before/after intervention study, with 2-yr prospective and 2-yr historical control cohorts.
Setting: Surgical intensive care unit (SICU) in a university-affiliated hospital.
Patients: Nine hundred and thirty-three patients, 478 in the prospective group and 455 in the control group, with SICU stay > or =5 days.
Interventions: During the prospective period, systematic mycological screening was performed on all patients admitted to the SICU, immediately at admittance and then weekly until discharge. A corrected colonization index was used to assess intensity of Candida mucosal colonization. Patients with corrected colonization index > or =0.4 received early preemptive antifungal therapy (fluconazole intravenously: loading dose 800 mg, then 400 mg/day for 2 wks).
Measurements and main results: End points of this study were the frequency of proven candidiasis, especially SICU-acquired candidiasis. During the retrospective period, 32 patients of 455 (7%) presented with proven candidiasis: 22 (4.8%) were imported and 10 (2.2%) were SICU-acquired cases. During the prospective period, 96 patients with corrected colonization index > or =0.4 of 478 received preemptive antifungal treatment and only 18 cases (3.8%) of proven candidiasis were diagnosed; all were imported infections. Candida infections occurred more frequently in the control cohort (7% vs. 3.8%; p = .03). Incidence of SICU-acquired proven candidiasis significantly decreased from 2.2% to 0% (p < .001, Fisher test). Incidence of proven imported candidiasis remained unchanged (4.8% vs. 3.8%; p = .42). No emergence of azole-resistant Candida species (especially Candida glabrata, Candida krusei) was noted during the prospective period.
Conclusions: Targeted preemptive strategy may efficiently prevent acquisition of proven candidiasis in SICU patients. Further studies are being performed to assess cost-effectiveness of this strategy and its impact on selection of azole-resistant Candida strains on a long-term basis.