Impact of selective digestive decontamination without systemic antibiotics in a major heart surgery intensive care unit

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The incidence density of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is higher in patients undergoing major heart surgery than in other populations, despite the introduction of bundles of preventive measures, because many risk factors are not amenable to intervention. Selective digestive decontamination (SDD) has been shown to be efficacious for decreasing the frequency of VAP, although it has not been incorporated into the routine of most intensive care units. The objective of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of SDD without parenteral antibiotics for preventing VAP in a major heart surgery intensive care unit.


We compared the incidence of VAP before the introduction of SDD (17 months) and during the 17 months after the introduction of SDD and examined its ecologic influence.


The rates of VAP in the overall population before and during the intervention were 16.26/1000 days and 6.80 episodes/1000 days of mechanical ventilation, respectively (P = .01). The rates of VAP in the 173 patients remaining under mechanical ventilation > 48 hours after surgery were, respectively, 25.85/1000 days of mechanical ventilation versus 12.06 episodes/1000 days of mechanical ventilation (P = .04). We found a significant reduction in the number of patients with multidrug-resistant microorganisms (P = .01) in the second period of the study.


Our study shows that SDD without parenteral antibiotics can reduce the incidence of VAP in high-risk patients after major heart surgery, with no significant ecologic influence.

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