Diagnosis of ventilator-associated pneumonia by bacteriologic analysis of bronchoscopic and nonbronchoscopic "blind" bronchoalveolar lavage fluid

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 May;143(5 Pt 1):1121-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/143.5_Pt_1.1121.


Substantial efforts have been devoted to improving the means for early and accurate diagnosis of ventilator-associated (VA) pneumonia in intensive care unit (ICU) patients because of its high incidence and mortality. A good diagnostic yield has been reported from quantitative cultures of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid or a protected specimen brush, both obtained by fiberoptic bronchoscopy. As bronchoscopy requires specific skills and is costly, we evaluated a simpler method to obtain BAL fluid, that is, by a catheter introduced blindly into the bronchial tree. Quantitative cultures from bronchoscopically sampled BAL (B-BAL) and blindly nonbronchoscopically collected BAL (NB-BAL) were assessed for sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value for the diagnosis of VA pneumonia. A total of 40 pairs of samples were examined in 28 patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation and presenting a high risk of developing pneumonia. For comparison with bacteriologic data we defined a clinical score for pneumonia ranging from zero to 12 using the following variables: body temperature, leukocyte count, volume and character of tracheal secretions, arterial oxygenation, chest X-ray, Gram stain, and culture of tracheal aspirate. To quantify the bacteria in BAL the bacterial index (BI) was used, defined as the sum of the logarithm of the number of bacteria cultured per milliliter of BAL fluid. A good correlation between clinical score and quantitative bacteriology was observed (r = 0.84 for B-BAL and 0.76 for NB-BAL; p less than 0.0001). Similar to studies in baboons, patients with pulmonary infection could be distinguished by a BI greater than or equal to 5 with a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 100% (B-BAL).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Cross Infection / diagnosis*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / methods