Patients undergoing mechanical ventilation (MV) after an isolated closed head injury (ICHI) have often been found to develop hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) well before subjects who require MV for different reasons. In a prospective study of patients receiving MV after an ICHI, 38 subjects (out of 65 with clinically suspected HAP) had a bacteriological diagnosis established on the basis of correspondence between cultures made from bronchoalveolar lavage and protected specimen brush (with quantitative thresholds of 104 and 103 cfu ml-1, respectively). Patients were separated according to the time of onset of HAP, with 20 subjects who developed HAP within 4 days of the start of MV (early onset pneumonia, EOP) and 18 subjects who developed HAP after the fourth day (late onset pneumonia, LOP). In those who had LOP, an expected spectrum of organisms was found, with Gram-negatives (especially Pseudomonas sp.) accounting for the majority of isolates. However, in EOP cases, Gram-positive bacteria (especially Staphylococcus sp. and Streptococcus pneumoniae) were found to largely predominate (P = 0.0000026). This confirms the high incidence of staphylococcal pneumonia in neurosurgery patients, and also provides evidence that the vast majority of such staphylococcal pneumonia are EOP. Unlike most previous reports, the microbiological findings from the present study suggest that a cut-off point of 4 days successfully distinguishes between EOP and LOP. Since these two clinical entities differ significantly in terms of pathogenesis and aetiology, preventive measures and therapeutical protocols have to be tailored accordingly.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine