, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 2162-2169
Date: 10 Sep 2003

Candidemia in critically ill patients: difference of outcome between medical and surgical patients

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Candidemia is increasingly encountered in critically ill patients with a high fatality rate. The available data in the critically ill suggest that patients with prior surgery are at a higher risk than others. However, little is known about candidemia in medical settings. The main goal of this study was to compare features of candidemia in critically ill medical and surgical patients.


Ten-year retrospective cohort study (1990–2000).


Medical and surgical intensive care units (ICUs) of a teaching hospital.


Fifty-one patients with at least one positive blood culture for Candida species.

Main results

Risk factors were retrieved in all of the patients: central venous catheter (92.1%), mechanical ventilation (72.5%), prior bacterial infection (70.6%), high fungal colonization index (45.6%). Candida albicans accounts for 55% of all candidemia. The overall mortality was 60.8% (85% and 45.2% in medical and surgical patients, respectively). Independent factors associated with survival were prior surgery (hazard ratio [HR] =0.25; 0.09–0.67 95% confidence interval [CI], p<0.05), antifungal treatment (HR =0.11; 0.04–0.30 95% CI, p<0.05) and absence of neutropenia (HR =0.10; 0.02–0.45 95% CI, p<0.05). Steroids, neutropenia and high density of fungal colonization were more frequently found among medical patients compared to surgical ones.


Candidemia occurrence is associated with a high mortality rate among critically ill patients. Differences in underlying conditions could account for the poorer outcome of the medical patients. Screening for fungal colonization could allow identification of such high-risk patients and, in turn, improve outcome.