Ventilator-associated events versus ventilator-associated respiratory infections—moving into a new paradigm or merging both concepts, instead?

Sergio Ramirez-Estrada, Yolanda Peña-Lopez, Vandana Kalwaje Eshwara, Jordi Rello


Despite ventilator-associated respiratory infections (VARI) are reported as the most common and fatal complications related to mechanical ventilation (MV), they are not the unique occurrences. The new classification of ventilator-associated events (VAE) proposed by the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) enhance the spectra of complications due to MV including both infection-related and non-infectious events. Both VAEs and VARIs are associated with prolonged duration of MV, longer stay in hospital and in the intensive care unit (ICU) and more antibiotic consumption, nonetheless patients with VAEs have worst outcomes. The VARI and VAE algorithms are focused on different targets and the correlation between both classifications is shown to be poor. The diagnostic criteria of the traditional classification have limited accuracy and the non-infectious complications may be misinterpreted as VARI. While the VAE surveillance enhances the spectra of MV complications but excludes less severe VARIs. Noninfective events explain up to 30% of VAEs, the main causes being atelectasis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary edema and pulmonary embolism. The bundles assessing VAE are associated with less incidence of VAP and improved outcomes but they fail to reduce the rates of VAE. Automated VAE surveillance is efficient and useful as a quality indicator in the ICU while the differences in the interpretation of VARI criteria limit its role in the design of global protocols and preventive strategies. We suggest that a more comprehensive strategy should combine both algorithms with emphasis on clinical outcomes.