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Recent Advances in Chest Medicine |

Pneumonia Due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Part I: Epidemiology, Clinical Diagnosis, and Source

Shigeki Fujitani, MD, PhD; Hsin-Yun Sun, MD; Victor L. Yu, MD; Jeremy A. Weingarten, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine (Dr Fujitani), St. Marianna University, Kanagawa, Japan; the Department of Internal Medicine (Dr Sun), National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan; the Department of Medicine (Dr Yu), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; and the Department of Medicine (Dr Weingarten), Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY.

Correspondence to: Victor L. Yu, MD, Special Pathogens Laboratory, 1401 Forbes Ave, Ste 207, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; e-mail: vly@pitt.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(4):909-919. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0166
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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an uncommon cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), but a common cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia. Controversies exist for diagnostic methods and antibiotic therapy. We review the epidemiology of CAP, including that in patients with HIV and also in hospital-acquired pneumonia, including ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and bronchoscope-associated pneumonia. We performed a literature review of clinical studies involving P aeruginosa pneumonia with an emphasis on treatment and prevention. Pneumonia due to P aeruginosa occurs in several distinct syndromes: (1) CAP, usually in patients with chronic lung disease; (2) hospital-acquired pneumonia, usually occurring in the ICU; and (3) bacteremic P aeruginosa pneumonia, usually in the neutropenic host. Radiologic manifestations are nonspecific. Colonization with P aeruginosa in COPD and in hospitalized patients is a well established phenomenon such that treatment based on respiratory tract cultures may lead to overtreatment. We present circumstantial evidence that the incidence of P aeruginosa has been overestimated for hospital-acquired pneumonia and reflex administration of empirical antipseudomonal antibiotic therapy may be unnecessary. A diagnostic approach with BAL and protected specimen brush using quantitative cultures for patients with VAP led to a decrease in broad-spectrum antibiotic use and improved outcome. Endotracheal aspirate cultures with quantitative counts are commonly used, but validation is lacking. An empirical approach using the Clinical Pulmonary Infection Score is a pragmatic approach that minimizes antibiotic resistance and leads to decreased mortality in patients in the ICU. The source of the P aeruginosa may be endogenous (from respiratory or GI tract colonization) or exogenous from tap water in hospital-acquired pneumonia. The latter source is amenable to preventive measures.


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