Introduction: The use of a system for continuous control of endotracheal tube cuff pressure reduced the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in one randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 112 patients but not in another RCT with 142 patients. In several guidelines on the prevention of VAP, the use of a system for continuous or intermittent control of endotracheal cuff pressure is not reviewed. The objective of this study was to compare the incidence of VAP in a large sample of patients (n = 284) treated with either continuous or intermittent control of endotracheal tube cuff pressure.
Methods: We performed a prospective observational study of patients undergoing mechanical ventilation during more than 48 hours in an intensive care unit (ICU) using either continuous or intermittent endotracheal tube cuff pressure control. Multivariate logistic regression analysis (MLRA) and Cox proportional hazard regression analysis were used to predict VAP. The magnitude of the effect was expressed as odds ratio (OR) or hazard ratio (HR), respectively, and 95% confidence interval (CI).
Results: We found a lower incidence of VAP with the continuous (n = 150) than with the intermittent (n = 134) pressure control system (22.0% versus 11.2%; p = 0.02). MLRA showed that the continuous pressure control system (OR = 0.45; 95% CI = 0.22-0.89; p = 0.02) and the use of an endotracheal tube incorporating a lumen for subglottic secretion drainage (SSD) (OR = 0.39; 95% CI = 0.19-0.84; p = 0.02) were protective factors against VAP. Cox regression analysis showed that the continuous pressure control system (HR = 0.45; 95% CI = 0.24-0.84; p = 0.01) and the use of an endotracheal tube incorporating a lumen for SSD (HR = 0.29; 95% CI = 0.15-0.56; p < 0.001) were protective factors against VAP. However, the interaction between type of endotracheal cuff pressure control system (continuous or intermittent) and endotracheal tube (with or without SSD) was not statistically significant in MLRA (OR = 0.41; 95% CI = 0.07-2.37; p = 0.32) or in Cox analysis (HR = 0.35; 95% CI = 0.06-1.84; p = 0.21).
Conclusions: The use of a continuous endotracheal cuff pressure control system and/or an endotracheal tube with a lumen for SSD could help to prevent VAP in patients requiring more than 48 hours of mechanical ventilation.