Influence of clinical history on airways bacterial colonization in subjects with chronic tracheostomy

M. Lusuardi, A. Capelli, C. G. Cerutti, I. Gnemmi, S. Zaccaria, C. F. Donner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with chronic tracheostomy are subject to significant bacterial colonization of the airways, a risk factor for respiratory infections. The aim of our study was to verify whether bacterial colonization and humoral immune response in the airways can be influenced by the disease which led to chronic respiratory failure and tracheostomy. Thirty-nine clinically stable outpatients with chronic tracheostomy were considered: 24 were affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (mean age 66 years, range 54-78, M/F 19/3; months since tracheostomy 23, range 3-62), 15 by restrictive lung disease (RLD) (12 thoracic wall deformities, three neuromuscular disease; age 57 years, range 41-72; M/F 3/12, months since tracheostomy 22, range 2-68). Recent antibiotic or corticosteroid treatments (<1 month) were among exclusion criteria. Bacterial counts were assessed in tracheobronchial secretions with the method of serial dilutions. Identification of bacterial strains was performed by routine methods. Albumin, IgG, A, and M were measured in airways secretions with an immunoturbidimetric method. No significant differences were found between the two groups as regards either the quantitative bacterial cultures (RLD 81.4, 2.6-4200 x 104; COPD 75.9, 1.0-1530 x 104 colony forming units (cfu)/ml, geometric mean, range) or the prevalence of the main bacterial strains, (Pseudomonas species: 38 and 37%, Serratia marcescens: 31 and 23%, Staphylococcus aureus: 14 and 6%, Proteus species: 3 and 8%, for RLD and COPD respectively) as a percentage of total strains isolated (RLD = 26, COPD = 48). Immunoglobulin levels did not show significant differences, apart from being higher in underweight subjects. We conclude that in our series of stable outpatients with chronic tracheostomy, bacteria-host interaction in the airways was not influenced by the clinical history. (C) Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-440
Number of pages5
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


  • Bacteriology
  • Bronchial aspirate
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Chronic tracheostomy
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Kyphoscoliosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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