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Medicina Intensiva

Print version ISSN 0210-5691


ESTELLA, Á.. Analysis of 208 flexible bronchoscopies performed in an intensive care unit. Med. Intensiva [online]. 2012, vol.36, n.6, pp.396-401. ISSN 0210-5691.

Objective: To describe the main indications, clinical results and complications associated with fibrobronchoscopy in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Design: A retrospective, single-center observational study was carried out. Setting: Seventeen beds in a medical/surgical ICU. Patients: Consecutive patients undergoing fibrobronchoscopy during their stay in the ICU over a period of 5 years. Interventions: Flexible bronchoscopy performed by an intensivist. Main variables of interest: Flexible bronchoscopy indications and complications derived from the procedure. Results: A total of 208 flexible bronchoscopies were carried out in 192 patients admitted to the ICU. Most of the procedures (193 [92.8%]) were performed in mechanically ventilated patients. The average patient age was 58±16 years, with an APACHE II score at admission of 19±7. The most frequent indication for flexible bronchoscopy was diagnostic confirmation of initially suspected pneumonia (148 procedures), with positive bronchoalveolar lavage findings in 46%. The most frequent therapeutic indication was the resolution of atelectasis (28 procedures). Other indications were the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hemorrhage, the aspiration of secretions, control of percutaneous tracheotomy, and difficult airway management. The complications described during the procedures were supraventricular tachycardia (3.8%), transient hypoxemia (6.7%), and slight bleeding of the bronchial mucosal membrane (2.4%). Conclusions: A microbiological diagnosis of pneumonia and the resolution of atelectasis are the most frequent indications for flexible bronchoscopy in critically ill patients. Flexible bronchoscopy performed by an intensivist in ICU is a safe procedure.

Keywords : Flexible bronchoscopy; Intensive Care Unit; Pneumonia; Atelectasis; Bronchoalveolar lavage.

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