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Severe infections in neutropenic patients

Patel, Amita; Gruber, Pascaleb

Current Opinion in Critical Care: December 2015 - Volume 21 - Issue 6 - p 586–592
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0000000000000256

Purpose of review Severe infections in neutropenic patients can rapidly progress to septic shock and multiorgan failure with a high associated mortality. In this article we discuss current practice, emerging trends and controversies, including the prophylactic and empiric use of antimicrobial therapy, and advances in cellular and immunotherapy.

Recent findings Neutropenia is no longer a consistent factor predicting poor outcome in haematological patients admitted to the ICU. Severe infections in neutropenic patients are often polymicrobial, and pathogen resistance remains a challenge. Invasive fungal infection is still predictive of poor outcome. There has been a rapid expansion in the diagnostics and treatment modalities available for patients with invasive fungal infection. Use of growth factors, polyvalent immunoglobulin, and cellular therapy appear to be of value in certain groups of patients. There is a move away from the use of noninvasive ventilation and the use of high-flow nasal oxygen therapy is one of a number of novel respiratory support strategies that is yet to be evaluated in this patient population.

Summary Translation of current advances in antimicrobial, cellular and immunotherapy, and diagnostics to aid clinical management by the bedside is important in reducing morbidity and mortality for neutropenic patients with severe infection.

aTargeted Therapy, Division of Cancer Biology, Institute of Cancer Research; Stem Cell Transplantation, Haemato-Oncology Unit, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust; Centre for Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London

bCritical Care Unit, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Correspondence to Pascale Gruber, Clinical Lead in Intensive Care Medicine, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ, UK. Tel: +44 0207 352 8171 x1629; e-mail:

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