Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) is a significant challenge for the Intensive Care doctors worldwide. It is both difficult to diagnose accurately and quickly and to treat effectively once the diagnosis has been established. Current diagnostic microbiological methods of diagnosis can take up to 48 hours to yield results. Early diagnosis and treatment remain the best way of improving outcome for patients with VAP. In this study we look at novel diagnostic techniques for VAP. Electronic nose (Enose) technology was used to identify to identify the presence of microorganisms in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples taken from the respiratory tracts of ventilated patients. The results were compared with standard microbiological culture and sensitivities. The Enose was able to discriminate 83% of samples into growth or no growth groups on samples grown in the lab. When the technique was employed to samples taken directly from patients the accuracy fell to 68.2%. This suggests that patient related factors may be reducing the accuracy of the Enose classification. The use of antimicrobial drugs prior to patient sampling is likely to have played a major role. The second part of this study used Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of patient’s breath in an attempt to identify patients with VAP. Breath samples were taken at the same time as the bronchoalveolar lavage samples described above. The use of this technique did show differences between the breath samples of patients who did not have any microbiological growth from their BAL samples and those that did. Leave one out cross validation of a PC fed LDA model showed 84% correct classification between healthy volunteers, no growth and growth groups. Finally, we evaluated the Breathotron, which is a breath analysis device designed and built at Cranfield Health. It allows for analysis of breath samples using a single sensor system as opposed to a sensor array employed in traditional Enose devices. This allows it to be more portable and cheaper to build. The Breathotron also allows collection of breath onto sorbent cartridges for GC-MS analysis. Its single sensor did not allow for accurate discrimination between samples
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