Is (1→3)-β-D-glucan the missing link from bedside assessment to pre-emptive therapy of invasive candidiasis?
1 Adult Intensive Care Service, Department of Interdisciplinary Centers and Logistics, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Rue du Bugnon 46, CH-1011 Lausanne, Switzerland
2 Infectious Diseases Service, Department of Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Rue du Bugnon 46, CH-1011 Lausanne, Switzerland
Critical Care 2011, 15:1017 doi:10.1186/cc10544
See related research by Posteraro et al., http://ccforum.com/content/15/5/R249Published: 5 December 2011
Invasive candidiasis is a frequent life-threatening complication in critically ill patients. Early diagnosis followed by prompt treatment aimed at improving outcome by minimizing unnecessary antifungal use remains a major challenge in the ICU setting. Timely patient selection thus plays a key role for clinically efficient and cost-effective management. Approaches combining clinical risk factors and Candida colonization data have improved our ability to identify such patients early. While the negative predictive value of scores and predicting rules is up to 95 to 99%, the positive predictive value is much lower, ranging between 10 and 60%. Accordingly, if a positive score or rule is used to guide the start of antifungal therapy, many patients may be treated unnecessarily. Candida biomarkers display higher positive predictive values; however, they lack sensitivity and are thus not able to identify all cases of invasive candidiasis. The (1→3)-β-D-glucan (BG) assay, a panfungal antigen test, is recommended as a complementary tool for the diagnosis of invasive mycoses in high-risk hemato-oncological patients. Its role in the more heterogeneous ICU population remains to be defined. More efficient clinical selection strategies combined with performant laboratory tools are needed in order to treat the right patients at the right time by keeping costs of screening and therapy as low as possible. The new approach proposed by Posteraro and colleagues in the previous issue of Critical Care meets these requirements. A single positive BG value in medical patients admitted to the ICU with sepsis and expected to stay for more than 5 days preceded the documentation of candidemia by 1 to 3 days with an unprecedented diagnostic accuracy. Applying this one-point fungal screening on a selected subset of ICU patients with an estimated 15 to 20% risk of developing candidemia is an appealing and potentially cost-effective approach. If confirmed by multicenter investigations, and extended to surgical patients at high risk of invasive candidiasis after abdominal surgery, this Bayesian-based risk stratification approach aimed at maximizing clinical efficiency by minimizing health care resource utilization may substantially simplify the management of critically ill patients at risk of invasive candidiasis.