Objective: To assess the outcome of intensive care treatment in invasive aspergillosis.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: University Hospital, Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Patients: Twenty-five patients with invasive aspergillosis who were admitted to the medical ICU in a 5 1/2 year period. Twenty-two had received high-dose chemotherapy for (mainly hematologic) malignancies, one had been treated with cyclosporine and prednisolone for systemic lupus erythematosus, one with high-dose methylprednisolone for polyarteritis nodosa and one had an ARDS after near-drowning.
Measurements and results: The medical records were reviewed for patient and disease characteristics, outcome, reasons for admission to the ICU, supportive care and antifungal therapy as well as for the results of cultures and autopsy. Out of 25 patients, a definite ante mortem diagnosis could be established in seven. When autopsied patients were included, a total of 15 suffered from proven invasive aspergillosis. Although standard antifungal treatment and maximal available supportive care were given, 23 of 25 patients (92%) died after a mean of 15 (1-51) days in the ICU. Both patients who recovered had received high-dose chemotherapy for hematologic malignancy and showed bone marrow recovery and/or had a localized pulmonary infection.
Conclusions: In patients with highly suspected or proven invasive aspergillosis, admission to an ICU and mechanical ventilation should be considered in cases of localized infection and obvious signs of hematologic recovery. In most other circumstances ICU admission for mechanical ventilation does not seem to improve survival.