Pulmonary aspergillosis in patients with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia in UK Intensive Care Units

Laura Loughlin, Thomas P Hellyer, P Lewis White, Danny F McAuley, Andrew Conway Morris, Raquel B Posso, Malcolm Richardson, D W Denning, A John Simpson, Ronan McMullan

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Rationale: Aspergillus infection in patients with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia remains uncharacterized because of the absence of a disease definition and limited access to sensitive diagnostic tests. Objectives: To estimate the prevalence and outcomes of Aspergillus infection in adults with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia. Methods: Two prospective UK studies recruited 360 critically ill adults with new or worsening alveolar shadowing on chest X-ray and clinical/hematological parameters supporting suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia. Stored serum and BAL fluid were available from 194 nonneutropenic patients and underwent mycological testing. Patients were categorized as having probable Aspergillus infection using a definition comprising clinical, radiological, and mycological criteria. Mycological criteria included positive histology or microscopy, positive BAL fluid culture, galactomannan optical index of 1 or more in BAL fluid or 0.5 or more in serum. Measurements and Main Results: Of 194 patients evaluated, 24 met the definition of probable Aspergillus infection, giving an estimated prevalence of 12.4% (95% confidence interval, 8.1–17.8). All 24 patients had positive galactomannan in serum (n = 4), BAL fluid (n = 16), or both (n = 4); three patients cultured Aspergillus sp. in BAL fluid. Patients with probable Aspergillus infection had a significantly longer median duration of critical care stay (25.5 vs. 15.5 d, P = 0.02). ICU mortality was numerically higher in this group, although this was not statistically significant (33.3% vs. 22.8%; P = 0.23). Conclusions: The estimated prevalence for probable Aspergillus infection in this geographically dispersed multicenter UK cohort indicates that this condition should be considered when investigating patients with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia, including patient groups not previously recognized to be at high risk of aspergillosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1132
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number8
Early online date1 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • Aspergillus
  • Critical care
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Prevalence


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