Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is an infection of the lungs that affects people who are on a ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that helps you breathe. Pneumonia affects the small airways and air sacs in the lungs.

  • Causes


    VAP is commonly caused by specific bacteria.
    The tube that goes into the lungs makes it easier for bacteria to enter deep into the lungs.

  • Definition

    Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is an infection of the lungs that affects people who are on a
    ventilator. A ventilator is a machine that helps you breathe. Pneumonia affects the small airways and air sacs in the lungs.

    Alveoli
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  • Diagnosis


    Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:

    • Blood tests, which may include arterial blood gases to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in the blood
    • Blood cultures
    • Cultures from below the chest tube
    • Chest x-ray
    • CT scan

  • Prevention


    To reduce your chance of VAP, the hospital staff will:

    • Elevate the head of your bed 30°-45°
    • Wash their hands before and after touching you or the ventilator
    • Clean the inside of your mouth on a regular basis
    • Keep you on the ventilator only if it is necessary
    • Avoid overly sedating you
    • Regularly suction your airway

  • Risk Factors


    Factors that may increase your chance of developing VAP include:

    • Chronic lung disease
    • Conditions that affect the nervous system
    • Weakened immune system
    • Prolonged antibiotic use
    • Repeated intubation
    • Tube placed through a stoma (hole in the throat) rather than down through the nose or mouth
    • Prolonged ventilation
    • Continuous sedation
    • Prolonged period of lying on back
    • Malnutrition
    • Older age

  • Symptoms

    VAP may cause:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Thick mucus, greenish mucus, or pus-like phlegm
    • Bluish color of nails or lips
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Shortness of breath

  • Treatment


    Treatment depends on which germs are causing the pneumonia. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment plan with you. Treatment options include:

    • IV antibiotics
    • Oxygen therapy to increase the level of oxygen in your body
    • Chest physical therapy to loosen and remove thick mucus from the lungs