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Concept: Septic shock


Background Whether hydrocortisone reduces mortality among patients with septic shock is unclear. Methods We randomly assigned patients with septic shock who were undergoing mechanical ventilation to receive hydrocortisone (at a dose of 200 mg per day) or placebo for 7 days or until death or discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU), whichever came first. The primary outcome was death from any cause at 90 days. Results From March 2013 through April 2017, a total of 3800 patients underwent randomization. Status with respect to the primary outcome was ascertained in 3658 patients (1832 of whom had been assigned to the hydrocortisone group and 1826 to the placebo group). At 90 days, 511 patients (27.9%) in the hydrocortisone group and 526 (28.8%) in the placebo group had died (odds ratio, 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82 to 1.10; P=0.50). The effect of the trial regimen was similar in six prespecified subgroups. Patients who had been assigned to receive hydrocortisone had faster resolution of shock than those assigned to the placebo group (median duration, 3 days [interquartile range, 2 to 5] vs. 4 days [interquartile range, 2 to 9]; hazard ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.23 to 1.41; P<0.001). Patients in the hydrocortisone group had a shorter duration of the initial episode of mechanical ventilation than those in the placebo group (median, 6 days [interquartile range, 3 to 18] vs. 7 days [interquartile range, 3 to 24]; hazard ratio, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.22; P<0.001), but taking into account episodes of recurrence of ventilation, there were no significant differences in the number of days alive and free from mechanical ventilation. Fewer patients in the hydrocortisone group than in the placebo group received a blood transfusion (37.0% vs. 41.7%; odds ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.72 to 0.94; P=0.004). There were no significant between-group differences with respect to mortality at 28 days, the rate of recurrence of shock, the number of days alive and out of the ICU, the number of days alive and out of the hospital, the recurrence of mechanical ventilation, the rate of renal-replacement therapy, and the incidence of new-onset bacteremia or fungemia. Conclusions Among patients with septic shock undergoing mechanical ventilation, a continuous infusion of hydrocortisone did not result in lower 90-day mortality than placebo. (Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and others; ADRENAL number, NCT01448109 .).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Intensive care medicine, Shock, Interquartile range, Septic shock, Sepsis, Blood transfusion


Our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of sepsis has advanced over the last decade, and evidence-based protocols have improved its outcomes. Here, we review its management in the first hours and afterward, including topics of ongoing study and debate.

Concepts: Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Shock, Septic shock, 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


ProCESS Investigators, Yealy DM, Kellum JA, Huang DT, Barnato AE, Weissfeld LA, Pike F, Terndrup T, Wang HE, Hou PC, LoVecchio F, Filbin MR, Shapiro NI, Angus DC. A randomized trial of protocol-based care for early septic shock. N Engl J Med. 2014; 370:1683-93.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Shock, Trigraph, Gh, Septic shock, Sepsis, Chinese-language surnames


The lack of a patent source of infection after 24 hours of management of shock considered septic is a common and disturbing scenario. We aimed to determine the prevalence and the causes of shock with no diagnosis 24 hours after its onset, and to compare the outcomes of patients with early-confirmed septic shock to those of others.

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Septic shock, Septic tank


Background After a single-center trial and observational studies suggesting that early, goal-directed therapy (EGDT) reduced mortality from septic shock, three multicenter trials (ProCESS, ARISE, and ProMISe) showed no benefit. This meta-analysis of individual patient data from the three recent trials was designed prospectively to improve statistical power and explore heterogeneity of treatment effect of EGDT. Methods We harmonized entry criteria, intervention protocols, outcomes, resource-use measures, and data collection across the trials and specified all analyses before unblinding. After completion of the trials, we pooled data, excluding the protocol-based standard-therapy group from the ProCESS trial, and resolved residual differences. The primary outcome was 90-day mortality. Secondary outcomes included 1-year survival, organ support, and hospitalization costs. We tested for treatment-by-subgroup interactions for 16 patient characteristics and 6 care-delivery characteristics. Results We studied 3723 patients at 138 hospitals in seven countries. Mortality at 90 days was similar for EGDT (462 of 1852 patients [24.9%]) and usual care (475 of 1871 patients [25.4%]); the adjusted odds ratio was 0.97 (95% confidence interval, 0.82 to 1.14; P=0.68). EGDT was associated with greater mean (±SD) use of intensive care (5.3±7.1 vs. 4.9±7.0 days, P=0.04) and cardiovascular support (1.9±3.7 vs. 1.6±2.9 days, P=0.01) than was usual care; other outcomes did not differ significantly, although average costs were higher with EGDT. Subgroup analyses showed no benefit from EGDT for patients with worse shock (higher serum lactate level, combined hypotension and hyperlactatemia, or higher predicted risk of death) or for hospitals with a lower propensity to use vasopressors or fluids during usual resuscitation. Conclusions In this meta-analysis of individual patient data, EGDT did not result in better outcomes than usual care and was associated with higher hospitalization costs across a broad range of patient and hospital characteristics. (Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and others; PRISM number, NCT02030158 .).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Patient, Hospital, Medical statistics, Shock, Physician, Effect size, Septic shock


Sepsis is defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. In sepsis and septic shock, pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecules (PAMPS), such as bacterial exotoxins, cause direct cellular damage and/or trigger an immune response in the host often leading to excessive cytokine production, a maladaptive systemic inflammatory response syndrome response (SIRS), and tissue damage that releases DAMPs, such as activated complement and HMGB-1, into the bloodstream causing further organ injury. Cytokine reduction using extracorporeal blood filtration has been correlated with improvement in survival and clinical outcomes in experimental studies and clinical reports, but the ability of this technology to reduce a broader range of inflammatory mediators has not been well-described. This study quantifies the size-selective adsorption of a wide range of sepsis-related inflammatory bacterial and fungal PAMPs, DAMPs and cytokines, in a single compartment, in vitro whole blood recirculation system.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Antibody, Blood, Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, Septic shock, Sepsis


Sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock represent increasingly severe systemic inflammatory responses to infection. Sepsis is common in the aging population, and it disproportionately affects patients with cancer and underlying immunosuppression. In its most severe form, sepsis causes multiple organ dysfunction that can produce a state of chronic critical illness characterized by severe immune dysfunction and catabolism. Much has been learnt about the pathogenesis of sepsis at the molecular, cell, and intact organ level. Despite uncertainties in hemodynamic management and several treatments that have failed in clinical trials, investigational therapies increasingly target sepsis induced organ and immune dysfunction. Outcomes in sepsis have greatly improved overall, probably because of an enhanced focus on early diagnosis and fluid resuscitation, the rapid delivery of effective antibiotics, and other improvements in supportive care for critically ill patients. These improvements include lung protective ventilation, more judicious use of blood products, and strategies to reduce nosocomial infections.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Pneumonia, Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Intensive care medicine, Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, Septic shock, Sepsis


Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and sepsis are now frequently identified by observations of vital signs and detection of organ failure during triage in the emergency room. However, there is less focus on the effect on patient outcome with better observation and treatment at the ward level.

Concepts: Inflammation, Hospital, Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, Philosophy of science, Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, Septic shock, Sepsis