Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia in Adult Non-HIV Disorders

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Pneumocystis cariniipneumonia (PCP) remains a serious infection in the immunocompromised host (in the absence of HIV infection) and presents significant management and diagnostic challenges to ICU physicians. Non-HIV PCP is generally abrupt in onset, and follows a fulminate course with high rates of hospitalization, ICT admission, respiratory failure, and requirement for intubation. Mortality is generally high, especially if mechanical ventilation is required. Non-invasive ventilatory support may be considered, although the rapid progression to respiratory failure often necessitates intubation at the time of presentation. Bronchoscopy is often required to establish the diagnosis, and empirical antimicrobial treatment specifically targeted to P. carinii should be initiated while awaiting confirmation. Adjunctive corticosteroids may accelerate recovery, although their use has not yet been established in non-HIV PCP. For the ICU physicians to diagnose PCP, the non-specific presentation of an acute febrile illness and respiratory distress with diffuse pulmonary infiltrates requires a high clinical index of suspician, familiarity with clinical conditions associated with increased risk for PCP, and a low threshold for bronchoscopy to establish the diagnosis.

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