Management of mycoses in surgical patients — review of the literature

René G Holzheimer, H Dralle
European Journal of Medical Research 2002 May 31, 7 (5): 200-26
Fungal infections have been recognized as major cause of morbidity and mortality in neutropenic and non-neutropenic surgical intensive care patients. The incidence of Candida has increased: it is now the fourth most often isolated pathogen in bloodstream infections. The incidence of Aspergillus infection in transplant patients is highest in heart and lung transplants: 19-26%. Most invasive fungal infections in surgical patients are caused by Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp., less by Cryptococcus spp. and may be classified as local or organ-related, as (chronic) disseminated, and as fungemia. There is no highly specific and sensitive routine test for the diagnosis of Candida and Aspergillus infections available; clinical signs of fungal infections are rather unspecific. The significance of colonization remains undetermined. In non-neutropenic surgical patients central venous access and broad-spectrum antibiotics are independent risk factors for the development of fungal infection. Immunsuppression, e.g., transplantation, burn injury, can render patients susceptible to fungal infection. This has lead to the introduction of antifungal prophylaxis in transplant and burned patients which has reduced the mortality for Candida spp. infection significantly. There is no prophylaxis available against Aspergillus spp. and Cryptococcus spp. Treatment of fungal infections consists of surgical and medical treatment for most organ-related infections. Recommendations for the management of fungal infections exist mostly for neutropenic patients, only few reports address the fungal infection of the surgical intensive care patient. Amphotericin B has been recommended as first line treatment for most severe fungal infections with fluconazole as follow-up treatment. In case of the development of toxic side effects of amphotericin B, mostly fluconazole or lipid formulations of amphotericin were favored. However, a shift in Candida strains towards non-albicans spp. and more resistant species was observed during recent years. This has lead to treatment failures in severe Candida and Aspergillus infections. The prognosis for invasive Aspergillus infections remains poor despite amphotericin B treatment. Newer azoles, e.g. voriconazole, demonstrated stable activity against most of these strains and may offer an option in the treatment of refractory fungal infections.

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