Controversies in the management of the critically ill: the role of probiotics.

Link to article at PubMed

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Controversies in the management of the critically ill: the role of probiotics.

Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2013 May 9;

Authors: Theodorakopoulou M, Perros E, Giamarellos-Bourboulis EJ, Dimopoulos G

Probiotics are commercially available, viable, non-pathogenic micro-organisms that, when ingested in sufficient quantities, exert a health benefit to the host derived through modification of the gut flora, local release of antimicrobial factors, maintenance of integrity of the gut barrier, competition for epithelial adherence, prevention of bacterial translocation, and modulation of the local immune response. In critically ill patients, probiotics appear to lead to decreased susceptibility to antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, Clostridium difficile infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, necrotising enterocolitis, acute severe pancreatitis, sepsis and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome as well as a shortened duration of infections. Current scientific evidence supporting the use of probiotics is not conclusive and is mainly derived from single-centre, not very well designed trials that are limited by many factors including small sample sizes, heterogeneity in the probiotic strains used, effectiveness of the combined strains, optimum dose regimens, frequency and duration of administration, and certainly incomplete knowledge of the mechanism of action of each strain. Probiotics appear to be well tolerated, whilst adverse events are very rare. The most commonly reported adverse events include bacteraemia, fungaemia and sepsis. At present, based on the available evidence and although helpful and relatively safe for certain disease conditions, routine use of probiotics in the critically ill is not recommended.

PMID: 23664676 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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