Preventing Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia: A Case for Inhaled Amikacin

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) remains a significant clinical concern in intensive care units worldwide. This nosocomial infection complicates the treatment trajectory of critically ill patients, prolonging hospital stays, increasing costs, and often escalating morbidity and mortality rates. As a result, there’s been a continuous pursuit of effective preventive strategies to counteract VAP’s incidence and severity. Among the potential interventions, the prophylactic administration of inhaled antibiotics has generated interest. However, the real-world efficacy of such a strategy has been contentious, with empirical evidence lacking a consistent consensus. This study, led by Dr. Stephan Ehrmann and a group of researchers, seeks to elucidate the role of inhaled amikacin as a preventive measure against VAP, endeavoring to bridge the gap in our current understanding and offering a potential advancement in VAP management.

Ventilator Support

Ventilator Support Courtesy of Rcp Basheer

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Study Methodology

The study was, spearheaded by Dr. Stephan Ehrmann and colleagues across the Reva and CRICS-TRIGGERSEP F-CRIN Research Networks. The research design was an investigator-initiated, double-blind, randomized, controlled superiority trial spanning multiple centers.

Critically ill adult subjects, all of whom had undergone invasive mechanical ventilation for a minimum of 72 hours, were selected. These patients were either administered inhaled amikacin, dosed at 20 mg per kilogram of the patient’s ideal body weight daily, or given a placebo. This regimen was sustained for three days. The primary metric evaluated was the occurrence of a first VAP episode within a 28-day follow-up window. Concurrently, safety parameters were closely monitored.

Significant Findings

Out of the 850 patients who were randomized, 847 were valid for analysis: 417 in the amikacin cohort and 430 in the placebo cohort. It was noted that 81% of the amikacin group and 82% of the placebo group received all three daily nebulizations as per the protocol.

Within the 28-day span:

  • 15% (62 patients) from the amikacin group developed VAP.
  • 22% (95 patients) from the placebo group developed VAP.

Statistically, the differential in restricted mean survival time to VAP between the groups was 1.5 days, favoring the amikacin group (95% CI, 0.6 to 2.5; P=0.004).

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Additionally, infection-related VAP complications were identified in:

  • 18% (74 patients) of the amikacin group.
  • 26% (111 patients) of the placebo group.

It’s worth mentioning that trial-associated serious side effects were relatively low, presenting in 1.7% of the amikacin group and 0.9% of the placebo group.

Implications for Clinical Practice

The findings from this study hold significant implications for clinical practice in critical care settings. The demonstrated efficacy of inhaled amikacin as a preventive measure against VAP represents a potential shift in the management of patients undergoing mechanical ventilation. As VAP has been a persistent challenge, with limited preventive options, introducing inhaled amikacin might reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with VAP, thereby improving overall patient outcomes and potentially minimizing hospitalization durations and costs.

Dr. Tampiwa Chebani, of Gilmore Health, commented on these findings, stating, “The results of this study are not just statistically significant but hold a paramount clinical relevance. Incorporating inhaled amikacin into our standard preventive measures might just be the breakthrough we’ve been seeking to reduce the burden of VAP in critical care.”

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Final Thoughts

For patients subjected to at least three days of mechanical ventilation, administering a three-day course of inhaled amikacin significantly reduced the incidence of VAP within the 28-day follow-up. This pivotal study, substantiated by rigorous methodologies and comprehensive analyses, accentuates the potential of inhaled amikacin as a preventive strategy against VAP. The research findings promise to contribute substantially to the clinical practice of critical care, advocating for improved patient outcomes.


Ehrmann, S., Barbier, F., Demiselle, J., Quenot, J.-P., Herbrecht, J.-E., Roux, D., Lacherade, J.-C., Landais, M., Seguin, P., Schnell, D., Veinstein, A., Gouin, P., et al. (2023). Inhaled Amikacin to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia. New England Journal of Medicine.



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