Objective: To evaluate CD4 counts as a predictor of mortality in AIDS patients with respiratory failure due to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP).
Design: Retrospective chart review.
Setting: Urban university medical center.
Patients: Forty-eight patients admitted to the medical ICU from January 1993 to August 1996 with diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, PCP, CD4 count <200 cells per cubic millimeter, who required mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure.
Interventions: Medical records were reviewed and age, CD4 count, lactate dehydrogenase, room air (RA) PaO2, coinfections, and day of admission to day of intubation (DOA-DOI) data were recorded.
Results: All 48 patients (12 women and 36 men) were treated with corticosteroids and IV trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Age ranged from 21 to 65 years; CD4, 1 to 180, RA PaO2, 27 to 93 mm Hg; and DOA-DOI, 0 to 20 days. Mortality varied significantly depending on CD4 counts: CD4 0 to 10 (100%); CD4 11 to 50 (88%); CD4 51 to 100 (50%); and CD4 >100 (25%). There were no significant difference in mortality between the groups with DOA-DOI <5 days (82%) vs >5 days (80%) or between the groups with PaO2 <60 mm Hg (85%) vs PaO2 >60 mm Hg (73%).
Conclusion: Even though overall mortality was 81%, the mortality rate was significantly different among the four groups. Most striking was the progressive increase in mortality as CD4 cells decreased from >100 (25% mortality) to <10 (100% mortality). Survivors had significantly higher CD4 cell counts than those who died. The CD4 cell count within 2 weeks of admission has significant prognostic value and may be helpful when counseling patients, families, and health-care surrogates in end-of-life decision making.