Med Intensiva. 2020 Nov 4:S0210-5691(20)30325-9. doi: 10.1016/j.medin.2020.09.009. Online ahead of print.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is related with high mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation and costs. Recent studies have questioned the safety and effectiveness of oral chlorhexidine to prevent VAP. We sought to verify whether the adverse effects of this substance outweigh its benefits. We searched several databases and selected studies that investigated the use of oral chlorhexidine and its impact on mortality. No association between oral chlorhexidine and lower VAP rates was found on meta-analyses of double-blind randomized trials, however significant increase in mortality was reported. It is speculated that chlorhexidine can cause damage to several organic sectors and cytotoxicity. Although it still can be beneficial in specific settings, robust evidence to recommend its routine application for all mechanically ventilated patients is lacking; therefore, given the possibility of harm, it would be better to follow the principle of non-maleficence until more studies becomes available.