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Concept: Intensive care medicine


To the Editor: Zika virus (ZIKV) is currently spreading widely, while its clinical spectrum remains a matter of investigation. Evidence of a relationship between ZIKV infection and cerebral birth abnormalities(1),(2) is growing.(3) An increased incidence of some peripheral nervous syndromes among adults was reported during outbreaks in French Polynesia(4),(5) and Brazil,(1),(2) but no formal link with ZIKV infection was shown. We describe a case of central nervous system infection with ZIKV that was associated with meningoencephalitis in an adult. An 81-year-old man was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) 10 days after he had been on . . .

Concepts: AIDS, Central nervous system, Nervous system, Psychology, Brain, The Canon of Medicine, Intensive care medicine, Peripheral nervous system


Background Acetaminophen is a common therapy for fever in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) who have probable infection, but its effects are unknown. Methods We randomly assigned 700 ICU patients with fever (body temperature, ≥38°C) and known or suspected infection to receive either 1 g of intravenous acetaminophen or placebo every 6 hours until ICU discharge, resolution of fever, cessation of antimicrobial therapy, or death. The primary outcome was ICU-free days (days alive and free from the need for intensive care) from randomization to day 28. Results The number of ICU-free days to day 28 did not differ significantly between the acetaminophen group and the placebo group: 23 days (interquartile range, 13 to 25) among patients assigned to acetaminophen and 22 days (interquartile range, 12 to 25) among patients assigned to placebo (Hodges-Lehmann estimate of absolute difference, 0 days; 96.2% confidence interval [CI], 0 to 1; P=0.07). A total of 55 of 345 patients in the acetaminophen group (15.9%) and 57 of 344 patients in the placebo group (16.6%) had died by day 90 (relative risk, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.66 to 1.39; P=0.84). Conclusions Early administration of acetaminophen to treat fever due to probable infection did not affect the number of ICU-free days. (Funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and others; HEAT Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12612000513819 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Statistics, Mathematics, Estimator, Intensive care medicine, Interquartile range, Placebo, Fever


Background Intracranial-pressure monitoring is considered the standard of care for severe traumatic brain injury and is used frequently, but the efficacy of treatment based on monitoring in improving the outcome has not been rigorously assessed. Methods We conducted a multicenter, controlled trial in which 324 patients 13 years of age or older who had severe traumatic brain injury and were being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) in Bolivia or Ecuador were randomly assigned to one of two specific protocols: guidelines-based management in which a protocol for monitoring intraparenchymal intracranial pressure was used (pressure-monitoring group) or a protocol in which treatment was based on imaging and clinical examination (imaging-clinical examination group). The primary outcome was a composite of survival time, impaired consciousness, and functional status at 3 months and 6 months and neuropsychological status at 6 months; neuropsychological status was assessed by an examiner who was unaware of protocol assignment. This composite measure was based on performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status and calculated as a percentile (with 0 indicating the worst performance, and 100 the best performance). Results There was no significant between-group difference in the primary outcome, a composite measure based on percentile performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status (score, 56 in the pressure-monitoring group vs. 53 in the imaging-clinical examination group; P=0.49). Six-month mortality was 39% in the pressure-monitoring group and 41% in the imaging-clinical examination group (P=0.60). The median length of stay in the ICU was similar in the two groups (12 days in the pressure-monitoring group and 9 days in the imaging-clinical examination group; P=0.25), although the number of days of brain-specific treatments (e.g., administration of hyperosmolar fluids and the use of hyperventilation) in the ICU was higher in the imaging-clinical examination group than in the pressure-monitoring group (4.8 vs. 3.4, P=0.002). The distribution of serious adverse events was similar in the two groups. Conclusions For patients with severe traumatic brain injury, care focused on maintaining monitored intracranial pressure at 20 mm Hg or less was not shown to be superior to care based on imaging and clinical examination. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT01068522 .).

Concepts: Psychology, Clinical trial, Brain, Traumatic brain injury, Intensive care medicine, Intracranial pressure, Adverse event, Intracranial hemorrhage


The patient had not yet coded but was spiraling downward, prompting a request for a bed in the intensive care unit (ICU). But the ICU had no available beds. Hours passed before the decision was made that another patient could safely be “bumped” out of the unit to accommodate our patient. After the transfer, in the empty room strewn with unused bottles, procedure kits, and hospital gowns, there was a moment of peaceful quiet but weariness. The team was exhausted from worrying that the patient would code before being transferred to the ICU, from running a makeshift ICU on a . . .

Concepts: Patient, Intensive care medicine


Background Previous trials suggesting that high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) reduced mortality among adults with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were limited by the use of outdated comparator ventilation strategies and small sample sizes. Methods In a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial conducted at 39 intensive care units in five countries, we randomly assigned adults with new-onset, moderate-to-severe ARDS to HFOV targeting lung recruitment or to a control ventilation strategy targeting lung recruitment with the use of low tidal volumes and high positive end-expiratory pressure. The primary outcome was the rate of in-hospital death from any cause. Results On the recommendation of the data monitoring committee, we stopped the trial after 548 of a planned 1200 patients had undergone randomization. The two study groups were well matched at baseline. The HFOV group underwent HFOV for a median of 3 days (interquartile range, 2 to 8); in addition, 34 of 273 patients (12%) in the control group received HFOV for refractory hypoxemia. In-hospital mortality was 47% in the HFOV group, as compared with 35% in the control group (relative risk of death with HFOV, 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.09 to 1.64; P=0.005). This finding was independent of baseline abnormalities in oxygenation or respiratory compliance. Patients in the HFOV group received higher doses of midazolam than did patients in the control group (199 mg per day [interquartile range, 100 to 382] vs. 141 mg per day [interquartile range, 68 to 240], P<0.001), and more patients in the HFOV group than in the control group received neuromuscular blockers (83% vs. 68%, P<0.001). In addition, more patients in the HFOV group received vasoactive drugs (91% vs. 84%, P=0.01) and received them for a longer period than did patients in the control group (5 days vs. 3 days, P=0.01). Conclusions In adults with moderate-to-severe ARDS, early application of HFOV, as compared with a ventilation strategy of low tidal volume and high positive end-expiratory pressure, does not reduce, and may increase, in-hospital mortality. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Current Controlled Trials numbers, ISRCTN42992782 and ISRCTN87124254 , and numbers, NCT00474656 and NCT01506401 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Pulmonology, Sample size, Medical statistics, Intensive care medicine, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, Mechanical ventilation, Pulmonary contusion


Sepsis is a common cause of death in the intensive care unit with mortality up to 70% when accompanied by multiple organ dysfunction. Rapid diagnosis and the institution of appropriate antibiotic therapy and pressor support are therefore critical for survival. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of numerous cellular processes, including inflammation and immunity.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, RNA, Intensive care medicine, Sociology, Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, Non-coding RNA, Sepsis


Various hydroxyethyl starch (HES) preparations have been used for decades to augment blood volume. There has been concern recently regarding possible adverse outcomes when using HES in the intensive care setting, especially in patients with septic shock. However, the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of HES preparations depend on their chemical composition and source material. Thus, different clinical conditions could result in differing effectiveness and safety for these preparations. Consequently, we assessed the safety of tetrastarches when used during surgery, using a formal search, that yielded 59 primary full publications of studies that met a priori inclusion criteria and randomly allocated 4529 patients with 2139 patients treated with tetrastarch compared with 2390 patients treated with a comparator. There were no indications that the use of tetrastarches during surgery induces adverse renal effects as assessed by change or absolute concentrations of serum creatinine or need for renal replacement therapy (39 trials, 3389 patients), increased blood loss (38 trials, 3280 patients), allogeneic erythrocyte transfusion (20 trials, 2151 patients; odds ratio for HES transfusion 0.73 [95% confidence interval = 0.61-0.87], P = 0.0005), or increased mortality (odds ratio for HES mortality = 0.51 [0.24-1.05], P = 0.079).

Concepts: Blood, Intensive care medicine, Renal physiology, Starch, Septic shock, Hypovolemia, Blood transfusion, 3rd millennium


BACKGROUND: The mortality rate of patients complicated with sepsis-associated organ failure remains high in spite of intensive care treatment. The purpose of this study was to define the duration of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) before organ failure (DSOF) and determine the value of DSOF as a prognostic factor in septic patients. METHODS: This retrospective cohort study was conducted in an 11-bed medical and surgical intensive care unit (ICU) in a university hospital. The primary endpoint was in-hospital mortality of the septic patients. RESULTS: One hundred ten septic patients with organ failure and/or shock were enrolled in this study. The in-hospital mortality rate was 36.9%. The median DSOF was 28.5 h. As a metric variable, DSOF was a statistically significant prognostic factor according to univariate analysis (survivor: 74.7 +/- 9.6 h, non-survivor: 58.8 +/- 16.5 h, p = 0.015). On the basis of the ROC curve, we defined an optimal cutoff of 24 h, with which we divided the patients as follows: group 1 (n = 50) comprised patients with a DSOF <=24 h, and group 2 (n = 60) contained patients with a DSOF >24 h. There were statistically significant differences in the in-hospital mortality rate between the two groups (52.0% vs. 25.0%, p = 0.004). Furthermore, by multivariate analysis, DSOF <=24 h (odds ratio: 5.89, 95% confidence interval: 1.46-23.8, p = 0.013) was a significant independent prognostic factor. CONCLUSION: DSOF may be a useful prognostic factor for severe sepsis.

Concepts: Inflammation, Cohort study, Statistics, Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Intensive care medicine, Multivariate statistics, Septic shock, Sepsis


This study took a retrospective approach to investigate patients with catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) over 2 years at a single hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) to identify meaningful risk factors and causative organisms.

Concepts: Kidney, Urinary tract infection, Urine, Intensive care medicine


Beta-lactam antibiotics form the backbone of treatment for Gram-negative pneumonia in mechanically ventilated patients in the intensive care unit. However, this beta-lactam antibiotic backbone is increasingly under pressure from emerging resistance across all geographical regions, and health-care professionals in many countries are rapidly running out of effective treatment options. Even in regions that currently have only low levels of resistance, the effects of globalization are likely to increase local pressures on the beta-lactam antibiotic backbone in the near future. Therefore, clinicians are increasingly faced with a difficult balancing act: the need to prescribe adequate and appropriate antibiotic therapy while reducing the emergence of resistance and the overuse of antibiotics. In this review, we explore the burden of Gram-negative pneumonia in the critical care setting and the pressure that antibiotic resistance places on current empiric therapy regimens (and the beta-lactam antibiotic backbone) in this patient population. New treatment approaches, such as systemic and inhaled antibiotic alternatives, are on the horizon and are likely to help tackle the rising levels of beta-lactam antibiotic resistance. In the meantime, it is imperative that the beta-lactam antibiotic backbone of currently available antibiotics be supported through stringent antibiotic stewardship programs.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Intensive care medicine, Antibiotic, Penicillin, Beta-lactam antibiotic, Beta-lactam, Antibiotics