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Percutaneous Transtracheal Aspiration in the Diagnosis of Anaerobic Pulmonary Infection

JOHN G. BARTLETT, M.D.; JON E. ROSENBLATT, M.D., F.A.C.P.; and SYDNEY M. FINEGOLD, M.D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to John G. Bartlett, M.D., Infectious Disease Section, Veterans Administration Hospital, 16111 Plummer St., Sepulveda, CA 91343.


Los Angeles and Sepulveda, California


Ann Intern Med. 1973;79(4):535-540. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-79-4-535
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The usefulness of anaerobic culture of percutaneous transtracheal aspirates has been evaluated in 91 untreated patients with various pulmonary conditions. Bacteriologic results were correlated with clinical features suggesting anaerobic infection. No anaerobes were recovered in 58 patients, indicating that these microorganisms do not normally reside in the trachea. Clinical and bacteriologic findings in these patients indicated aerobic pulmonary infection or nonbacterial pulmonary disease. Anaerobes were recovered from 33 aspirates; in 22 patients they were the only pathogens isolated, and in 11, anaerobes were isolated in combination with potential aerobic pathogens. Two patients had cavitating bronchogenic carcinomas with anaerobic colonization. In the other 31 patients clinical features (putrid sputum, infection after aspiration, necrotizing pulmonary lesions, and response to antibiotics) indicated anaerobic infection. Proper culture of percutaneous transtracheal aspirates will generally establish the diagnosis and permit identification of the pathogens in anaerobic pulmonary infections.

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