Fluconazole prophylaxis in critically ill surgical patients: A meta-analysis

Andrew F. Shorr*, Kevin Chung, William L. Jackson, Paige E. Waterman, Marin H. Kollef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Objective. To evaluate the impact of fluconazole prophylaxis on the incidence of fungal infections and on mortality among critically ill surgical patients. Design: Meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials of fluconazole prophylaxis. Patients: Subjects participating in the clinical trials in this area. Measurements and Main Results: We identified four randomized studies comparing fluconazole to placebo for prevention of fungal infections in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU). The studies enrolled 626 patients and used differing dosing regimens of fluconazole. All trials were double-blind and two were multicenter studies. Fluconazole administration significantly reduced the incidence of fungal infections (pooled odds ratio, 0.44; 95% confidence interval, 0.27-0.72; p < .001). However, fluconazole prophylaxis was not associated with a survival advantage (pooled OR for mortality, 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.59-1.28; p = NS). Fluconazole did not statistically alter the rate of candidemia, as this was low across the studies and developed in only 2.2% of all participants. Performing a sensitivity analysis and including two additional studies that indirectly examined fluconazole prophylaxis in the critically ill did not change our observations. Data from the reports reviewed were insufficient to allow comment on the impact of fIuconasole prophylaxis on resource utilization, the distribution of nonalbicans species of Candida, and the emergence of antifungal resistance. Generally, fluconazole appeared to be safe for SICU patients. Conclusions: Prophylactic fluconasole administration for prevention of mycoses in SICU patients appears to successfully decrease the rate of these infections, but this strategy does not improve survival. The absence of a survival advantage may reflect the few studies in this area and the possibility that this issue has not been adequately studied. Because of the potential for both resistance and emergence of nonalbicans isolates, clinicians must consider these issues when evaluating fluconazole prophylaxis in the SICU. Future trials should focus on more precisely identifying patients at high risk for fungal infections and on determining if broader use of fluconazole alters the distribution of candidal species seen in the SICU and impacts measures of resource utilization such as length of stay and duration of mechanical ventilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1928-1935
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Candida
  • Candidemia
  • Fluconazole
  • Intensive care
  • Mortality
  • Prevention


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