Incidence and diagnosis of ventilator-associated tracheobronchitis in the intensive care unit: an international online survey

Crit Care. 2014 Feb 12;18(1):R32. doi: 10.1186/cc13725.


Introduction: Several aspects of ventilator-associated tracheobronchitis (VAT)-including diagnostic criteria, overlap with ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and appropriate treatment regimens-remain poorly defined. The objectives of this study were to survey reported practices in the clinical and microbiological diagnosis of VAT and to evaluate perceptions of the impact of VAT on patient outcomes.

Methods: We developed a questionnaire consisting of (a) characteristics of the respondent, the ICU, and hospital; (b) current clinical and microbiological diagnostic approach; (c) empirical antibiotic therapy; and (d) the perception of physicians regarding the clinical impact of VAT and its implications.

Results: A total of 288 ICUs from 16 different countries answered the survey: 147 (51%) from the Latin American (LA) group and 141 (49%) from Spain, Portugal, and France (SPF group). The majority of respondents (n = 228; 79.2%) reported making the diagnosis of VAT based on clinical and microbiological criteria, and 40 (13.9%) by clinical criteria alone. Approximately half (50.3%) of the respondents agreed that patients should receive antibiotics for the treatment of VAT. Out of all respondents, 269 (93.4%) assume that a VAT episode increases ICU length of stay, and this perception is greater in the LA group (97.3%) than in the SPF group (89.4%, P <0.05). Half of the physicians considered that VAT increases the risk of mortality, and this perception is again greater in the LA group (58.5% versus 41.1%, P <0.05).

Conclusions: Given the possible high incidence of VAT and the perception of its importance as a risk factor for VAP and mortality, a large multicenter international prospective study would be helpful to validate a consensual definition of VAT, determine its incidence, and delineate its impact on subsequent VAP occurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bronchitis / diagnosis
  • Bronchitis / drug therapy
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology*
  • Bronchitis / etiology
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents