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Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), defined as pneumonia (infection of the lung) occurring in a person who has been assisted by mechanical ventilation (a breathing machine) within the past 48 hours, is a serious and life-threatening infection. Because individuals who contract ventilator-associated pneumonia are already critically ill (requiring mechanical ventilation), the death rate from ventilator-associated pneumonia is high. The April 11, 2007, issue of JAMA includes an article on ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Development of fever, increased white blood cell count, and new or changing lung infiltrate on chest x-ray are all signs of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Diagnosis can be challenging because other lung diseases can have similar signs. Cultures of tracheal aspirate (samples from the windpipe) show which bacteria (or fungus) are responsible for VAP. Sometimes bronchoscopy (looking directly at the trachea and bronchi with a special flexible lighted instrument) is necessary to get better samples. In rare cases, open lung biopsy to obtain lung tissue is required.
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia. JAMA. 2007;297(14):1616. doi:10.1001/jama.297.14.1616
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