Effect of Probiotics on the Incidence of Healthcare-Associated Infections in Mechanically Ventilated Neurocritical Care Patients

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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are seen in 17% of critically ill patients. Probiotics, live nonpathogenic microorganisms, may aid in reducing the incidence of infection in critically ill patients. We hypothesized that administration of probiotics would be safe and reduce the incidence of HAIs among mechanically ventilated neurocritical care patients.


We assembled 2 retrospective cohorts of mechanically ventilated neurocritical care patients. In the preintervention cohort from July 1, 2011, to December 31, 2011, probiotics were not used. In the postintervention group from July 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, 1 g of a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus helveticus was administered twice daily to all patients who were mechanically ventilated for more than 24 hours.


There were a total of 167 patients included, 80 patients in the preintervention group and 87 patients in the postintervention group. No patients in the preintervention group received probiotics. Eighty-five (98%) patients in the postintervention group received probiotics for a median of 10 days (interquartile range, 4-20 days). There were 14 (18%) HAIs in the preintervention group and 8 (9%) HAIs in the postintervention group (P = .17). Ventilator days, lengths of stay, in-hospital mortality, and discharge disposition were similar between the pre- and postintervention groups. There were no cases of Lactobacillus bacteremia or other adverse events associated with probiotics use.


Probiotics are safe to administer in neurocritical care patients; however, this study failed to demonstrate a significant decrease in HAIs or secondary outcomes associated with probiotics.

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