Effect of a Probiotic Preparation on Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in Critically Ill Patients Admitted to the Intensive Care Unit

Background: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) occurs as a life-threatening complication in critically ill mechanically ventilated patients. Probiotic administration may modify the gut microbiota; however, whether this modification could decrease VAP occurrence is not known.

Methods: In this study, 100 adult critically ill patients undergoing mechanical ventilation for >48 hours were randomly assigned to either the probiotic or the control group. The patients in the probiotic group received 2 capsules of probiotic preparation containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium,andStreptococcus spp., and those in the control group received placebo daily for 14 days. Results: The patients in the probiotic group had a lower incidence of statistically microbiologically confirmed VAP. The duration of intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stay was also lower in the probiotic group (P < .05). More than half of the patients in the control group had gastric residuals during ICU stay, compared with only 30% of patients in the probiotic group (P=0.004). Probiotic usage led to a nonsignificant decrease in diarrhea, gastric and oropharyngeal colonization, and incidence of multidrug-resistant pathogens. The Kaplan-Meier survival curves for time to the first episode of VAP did not show a significant difference between probiotic and control groups (log-rank test=1.89; P=0.17).

Conclusions: The results of probiotic administration for the prevention of VAP remain inconclusive in this trial. However, such an approach can decrease the length of ICU and hospital stay. Well-designed multicenter clinical studies with defined combinations of probiotics and definite end points are necessary in this field. (Nutr Clin Pract. 2019;34:156–162)

Keywords: critical illness; intensive care unit; probiotics; ventilator-associated pneumonia