Lung ultrasound for diagnosis and monitoring of ventilator-associated pneumonia
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is the most frequent nosocomial infection in intensive care units (ICU) and is associated with increased mortality, use of antimicrobials, longer mechanical ventilation, and higher healthcare costs. Lung ultrasonography (LUS) can be used at the bedside and gained widespread acceptance in ICU. Although the visualization of a single LUS sign cannot be considered specific for a diagnosis, clinically-driven LUS examination in particular setting and clinical conditions allow ruling in or out quickly and accurately several causes of acute respiratory failure. This article reviews LUS signs for VAP diagnosis and summarizes the studies testing LUS for VAP diagnosis and monitoring. Many VAP occurs in already injured regions, thus presence of lobar consolidation is not enough to affirm VAP. However, a linear/arborescent air-bronchogram confirms the diagnosis of VAP with a good specificity, a normal LUS rules out the diagnosis of VAP (in experimented hands). LUS, thanks to its bedside ready availability, has the potential to become a key tool in early VAP diagnosis. LUS could ideally represent the decision-making tool for antimicrobial therapy administration in the timeframe of the technical time required for bronchoalveolar lavage analysis. A systematic approach for diagnosis and monitoring of VAP with LUS is also proposed in this review. But specific data on LUS specificity and sensitivity for the diagnosis of VAP are still lacking and should be investigated.