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Closed endotracheal suctioning (CES) may impact ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) risk by reducing environmental contamination. In developing countries where resource limitations constrain the provision of optimal bed space for critically ill patients, CES assumes greater importance.In this prospective, open-labeled, randomized controlled trial spanning 10 months, we compared CES with open endotracheal suctioning (OES) in mechanically ventilated patients admitted to the medical intensive care unit (ICU) of a university-affiliated teaching hospital. Patients were followed up from ICU admission to death or discharge from hospital. Primary outcome was incidence of VAP. Secondary outcomes included mortality, cost, and length of stay.Two hundred patients were recruited, 100 in each arm. The incidence of VAP was 23.5%. Closed endotracheal suctioning was associated with a trend to a reduced incidence of VAP (odds ratio, 1.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-3.83; P = .067). A significant benefit was, however, observed with CES for late-onset VAP (P = .03). Mortality and duration of ICU and hospital stay were similar in the 2 groups. The cost of suction catheters and gloves was significantly higher with CES (Rs 272 [US $5.81] vs Rs 138 [US $2.94], P < .0001). Nine patients need to be treated with CES to prevent 1 VAP (95% confidence interval, -0.7 to 22).In the ICU setting in a developing country, CES may be advantageous in reducing the incidence of VAP, particularly late-onset VAP. These results mandate further studies in this setting before specific guidelines regarding the routine use of CES are proposed.