The next generation of rapid point-of-care testing identification tools for ventilator-associated pneumonia
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a frequent issue in intensive care units (ICU), with a major impact on morbidity, mortality and cost of care. VAP diagnosis remains challenging: traditional culture-based microbiological techniques are still the gold-standard, but are too slow to enable clinicians to improve prognosis with timely antimicrobial therapy adjustment. Prolonged exposure to inappropriate antibiotics has also been shown to increase the incidence of multi-drug-resistant organisms (MDROs). Point-of-care testing (POCT) tools are diagnostic testing methods that can be used at or near the bedside, with delays ranging from a couple minutes to a few hours. The use of POCTs for VAP could allow for faster diagnosis and antimicrobial therapy adjustments. Despite uncertainty regarding their diagnostic value, C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) can be detected using POCTs in few minutes. In VAP, CRP showed a sensitivity of 56% to 88% and specificity of 86% to 91%; PCT showed a sensitivity of 78% to 100% and a specificity between 75% and 97% using non-POCT methods. Automated microscopy could also be used in clinical ICU setting, with reported sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 97%, allowing for antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) in less than 12 h. Multiplex polymerase chain reaction (MPCR) could allow for identification and AST approximation through the detection of drug-resistance genes in about 6 h, with reported sensitivity of 89.2% and specificity of 97.1%; although use as POCT was shown to result in test failure in about 40% of samples. Despite being at an early development stage, exhalome analysis, which allows for non-invasive fast identification, and chromogenic tests, more suited for the detection of drugresistance enzymes, are also promising techniques for POCT diagnosis of VAP.