Background: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a significant cause of secondary morbidity and mortality in adult trauma patients. No study has characterized VAP in pediatric trauma patients. We determined the rates of and potential risk factors for VAP in pediatric trauma patients.
Methods: A countywide trauma registry identified all pediatric trauma patients with potential VAP treated at a Regional Trauma Center. After a structured chart review, descriptive statistics were used to characterize the population.
Results: One hundred fifty-eight trauma patients younger than 16 years requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation were identified in 3388 pediatric trauma admissions from the period 1995-2006. Drownings and poisonings were excluded. The registry identified 14 potential VAPs, of which, on detailed review, 7 were true cases. The VAP rate for pediatric trauma patients was 0.2% overall or 4.4% of those mechanically ventilated. In addition, ventilator days were available in the registry from 2003 forward and the rate in ventilator days was found to be 13.83/1000. Although higher than the overall pediatric intensive care unit VAP rate (5.93/1000 ventilator days), the pediatric trauma VAP rate was substantially lower than the VAP rate in adult trauma patients (58.25/1000 ventilator days). On chart review, six of the seven patients were male and older than 10 years (mean age, 11.9 years). All seven patients with VAP were blunt trauma victims with head injury (mean initial Glasgow Coma Score, 5.6) with Injury Severity Scores over 25 (mean, 32.1). Pulmonary contusion was present in four of the seven. Although the in-hospital mortality rate of ventilated pediatric trauma patients was 17.1%, there was no mortality in those with VAP.
Conclusions: The rate of VAP in pediatric trauma patients is substantially lower than in similar adults. Age older than 10 years, blunt trauma, head injury, and Injury Severity Score >25 may be risk factors. VAP is not associated with increased mortality in pediatric trauma patients.