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1.  Esophageal Perforation due to Transesophageal Echocardiogram: New Endoscopic Clip Treatment 
Case Reports in Gastroenterology  2014;8(2):235-239.
Esophageal perforation due to transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) during cardiac surgery is rare. A 72-year-old female underwent TEE during an operation for aortic valve replacement. Further, the patient presented hematemesis. Gastroscopy revealed an esophageal bleeding ulcer. Endoscopic therapy was successful. Although a CT scan excluded perforation, the patient became febrile, and a second gastroscopy revealed a big perforation at the site of ulcer. The patient's clinical condition required endoscopic intervention with a new OTSC® clip (Ovesco Endoscopy, Tübingen, Germany). The perforation was successfully sealed. The patient remained on intravenous antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors and parenteral nutrition for few days, followed by enteral feeding. She was discharged fully recovered 3 months later. We clearly demonstrate an effective, less invasive treatment of an esophageal perforation with a new endoscopic clip.
PMCID: PMC4127540  PMID: 25120414
Transesophageal echocardiogram; Esophageal perforation; Endoscopic treatment; OTSC® clip
2.  Recurrent cardiac myxoma in a 25 year old male: a DNA study 
We present a 25 year old Caucasian male patient with multiple recurrences of cardiac myxomas after surgical removal of the original tumor. His mother was operated on for right ventricular myxoma. The genetic analyses disclosed an aneuploid DNA content by flow cytometry analysis. The familial form of the cardiac myxomas must be distinguished from Carney complex syndrome. A long- term echocardiographic follow up is recommended to patients and their first degree relatives with cardiac myxomas.
PMCID: PMC3654903  PMID: 23618320
Cardiac myxoma; Aneuploid DNA
3.  Post thoracotomy spinal cord compression in a child. A word of caution 
Oxidised regenerated cellulose is a commonly used haemostatic agent in surgery which, in rare cases, has been held responsible for severe complications.
A 6-year-old girl developed flaccid paraplegia following the excision of a large thoracic ganglioneuroblastoma. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed spinal cord compression at the T10–11 level and the patient underwent emergency decompression via the previous thoracotomy. At operation the causative factor was found to be a mass consisted of cellulose used at the original procedure to control local bleeding in the vicinity of the intervertebral foramen.
The accessibility of the spinal canal from the thoracic cavity through the opening of the intervertebral foramen may allow migration of material and in this case oxidized regenerated cellulose, commonly used during cardiothoracic procedures, can cause rare but severe complications such as compression of the spinal cord.
The value of hemostatic gauze is well established in cardiothoracic surgery. However, surgeon should be cautious with the application of material in the proximity of the intervertebral foramen, especially if this is to leave behind after the completion of the procedure.
PMCID: PMC3605481  PMID: 23416508
Oxidised regenerated cellulose; Spinal cord compression; Spinal canal; Material migration; Decompression
4.  End-of-life decisions in Greek intensive care units: a multicenter cohort study 
Critical Care  2010;14(6):R228.
Intensive care may prolong the dying process in patients who have been unresponsive to the treatment already provided. Limitation of life-sustaining therapy, by either withholding or withdrawing support, is an ethically acceptable and common worldwide practice. The purpose of the present study was to examine the frequency, types, and rationale of limiting life support in Greek intensive care units (ICUs), the clinical and demographic parameters associated with it, and the participation of relatives in decision making.
This was a prospective observational study conducted in eight Greek multidisciplinary ICUs. We studied all consecutive ICU patients who died, excluding those who stayed in the ICU less than 48 hours or were brain dead.
Three hundred six patients composed the study population, with a mean age of 64 years and a mean APACHE II score on admission of 21. Of study patients, 41% received full support, including unsuccessful cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); 48% died after withholding of CPR; 8%, after withholding of other treatment modalities besides CPR; and 3%, after withdrawal of treatment. Patients in whom therapy was limited had a longer ICU (P < 0.01) and hospital (P = 0.01) length of stay, a lower Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS) on admission (P < 0.01), a higher APACHE II score 24 hours before death (P < 0.01), and were more likely to be admitted with a neurologic diagnosis (P < 0.01). Patients who received full support were more likely to be admitted with either a cardiovascular (P = 0.02) or trauma diagnosis (P = 0.05) and to be surgical rather than medical (P = 0.05). The main factors that influenced the physician's decision were, when providing full support, reversibility of illness and prognostic uncertainty, whereas, when limiting therapy, unresponsiveness to treatment already offered, prognosis of underlying chronic disease, and prognosis of acute disorder. Relatives' participation in decision making occurred in 20% of cases and was more frequent when a decision to provide full support was made (P < 0.01). Advance directives were rare (1%).
Limitation of life-sustaining treatment is a common phenomenon in the Greek ICUs studied. However, in a large majority of cases, it is equivalent to the withholding of CPR alone. Withholding of other therapies besides CPR and withdrawal of support are infrequent. Medical paternalism predominates in decision making.
PMCID: PMC3219993  PMID: 21172003
5.  Peripheral T-cell lymphoma presenting as an ischemic stroke in a 23-year-old woman: a case report and review of the literature 
Peripheral T-cell lymphoma of the unspecified variant is a highly aggressive subtype of T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is the first reported case of this type of lymphoma presenting as an ischemic stroke in a woman.
Case presentation
A previously healthy 23-year-old woman presented with fever and hemiplegia. She was subsequently intubated after scoring 7 out of 15 at the Glasgow Coma Scale. Brain computed tomography scans of the patient depicted a massive sylvian infarction while an abdominal computed tomography scan revealed multiple enlarged abdominal lymph nodes and a retroperitoneal mass adjacent to the left psoas muscle. A diagnostic work up for inherited thrombophilia yielded negative results. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures for infectious agents also gave negative results. A biopsy of the retroperitoneal mass guided by computed tomography was inconclusive. A biopsy of an enlarged inguinal lymph node of the patient, combined with an immunophenotypic analysis, revealed an unspecified variant of peripheral T-cell lymphoma. The patient underwent chemotherapy but developed multiple organ failure. She died 26 days after she was admitted to our intensive care unit.
Peripheral T-cell lymphoma of the unspecified variant is a highly aggressive subtype of peripheral T-cell lymphomas. The latter exhibit no consistent immunophenotypic, genetic, or clinical features. Clinicians should be aware of atypical clinical presentations of the above lymphomas such as ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC2783082  PMID: 19946559
6.  Fulminant listerial infection of the central nervous system in an otherwise healthy patient: a case report 
The mortality of listerial rhombo-encephalitis exceeds 26% and may involve otherwise healthy patients. A case is presented of a man with fatal listerial infection of the central nervous system that was monitored in an intensive care unit.
Case presentation
A 42-year-old, previously healthy man was admitted with fever of 39°C, blurred vision, confusion and headache. He had right-sided central facial paresis, bilateral absent gag reflex and bilateral cerebellar ataxia. After a few hours, he became septic and developed bilateral vocal cord paralysis and airway obstruction. He was intubated and put on mechanical ventilation. Computed tomography brain scans revealed multiple frontal hypodense areas and slight hydrocephalus. Cerebrospinal fluid findings included pleocytosis of 4200 cells/μL (77% neutrophils), protein of 114 mg/dL and normal glucose levels. Listerial infection was suspected; therefore ampicillin was added to his initial therapeutic regimen, already including ceftriaxone and gentamicin. All cultures were negative, and no immunologic abnormality could be documented, but the patient's clinical condition deteriorated rapidly. Continuous neuromonitoring by means of transcranial Doppler and optic nerve sonography along with follow-up computed tomography brain scans confirmed the severity of the brain damage; hence, dexamethasone and mannitol were also administered. The patient was clinically documented as 'brain dead' 7 days after his admission to the intensive care unit; thereafter, blood- and post-mortem brain tissue cultures grew Listeria monocytogenes.
This case report illustrates the importance of neuromonitoring in patients with severe brain damage. We also show that, despite prompt antibiotic treatment and dexamethasone administration, listerial infection of the central nervous system can be lethal.
PMCID: PMC2726517  PMID: 19830196
7.  Sclerosing mesenteritis affecting the small and the large intestine in a male patient with non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a case presentation and review of the literature 
Sclerosing mesenteritis is a rare disease resembling a mesenteric tumour. We present here a case of sclerosing mesenteritis that affected both the large and the small intestine of the patient. Therapeutic and diagnostic issues are discussed.
Case presentation
A 62-year-old man with a history of non-Hodgkin lymphoma presented with fatigue, a palpable tender abdominal mass and clinical signs of progressing intestinal obstruction. The preoperative evaluation failed to prove recurrence of the lymphoma or any other definite diagnosis. A laparotomy was performed through a midline incision. The mesentery resembled a tumour-like thickened and fibrotic mass. Abundant, rigid intestinal loop adhesions were observed. Diffuse fibrotic infiltration of the ileum and of the sigmoid colon, which obviously affected the intestinal vascular supply, were identified. A right colectomy and partial sigmoidectomy were performed. Pathological evaluation revealed extensive myofibroblastic reaction of the mesentery with accompanying loci of fat necrosis and areas of inflammation. A diffuse fibrotic infiltration that focally showed a ground-glass appearance was observed. The post-operative course was complicated by respiratory insufficiency and infections and the patient died 2 months after the operation.
Sclerosing mesenteritis that affects both the small and the large intestine is extremely rare. The disease is characterized by myofibroblastic reaction, fat necrosis and diffuse fibrosis of the mesentery. Pathological confirmation may be required for definite diagnosis. If the disease is characterized by severe and diffuse fibrosis, then the application of surgical therapy may be problematic.
PMCID: PMC2615039  PMID: 19091063
8.  The 'cardiac-lung mass' artifact: an echocardiographic sign of lung atelectasis and/or pleural effusion 
Critical Care  2008;12(5):R122.
We conducted an ultrasound study to investigate echocardiographic artifacts in mechanically ventilated patients with lung pathology.
A total of 205 mechanically ventilated patients who exhibited lung atelectasis and/or pleural effusion were included in this 36-month study. The patients underwent lung echography and transthoracic echocardiography, with a linear 5 to 10 MHz and with a 1.5 to 3.6 MHz wide-angle phased-array transducer, respectively. Patients were examined by two experienced observers who were blinded to each other's interpretation.
A total of 124 patients (60,48%) were hospitalized because of multiple trauma; 60 patients (29,26%) because of respiratory insufficiency, and 21 (10,24%) because of recent postoperative surgery. The mean duration ( ± standard deviation) of hospitalization was 35 ± 27 days. An intracardiac artifact was documented in 17 out of 205 patients (8.29%) by echocardiography. It was visible only in the apical views, whereas subsequent transesophageal echocardiography revealed no abnormalities. The artifact consisted of a mobile component that exhibited, on M-mode, a pattern of respiratory variation similar to the lung 'sinusoid sign'. Lung echography revealed lung atelectasis and/or pleural effusion adjacent to the heart, and a similar M-mode pattern was observed. The artifact was recorded within the left cardiac chambers in 11 cases and within the right cardiac chambers in six.
Lung atelectasis and/or pleural effusion may create a mirror image, intracardiac artifact in mechanically ventilated patients. The latter was named the 'cardiac-lung mass' artifact to underline the important diagnostic role of both echocardiography and lung echography in these patients.
Trial registration
This trial is ISRCTN registered: ISRCTN 49216096.
PMCID: PMC2592755  PMID: 18826590
9.  Optic nerve sonography in the diagnostic evaluation of adult brain injury 
Critical Care  2008;12(3):R67.
The optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) may be increased in brain-injured patients, especially children, with intracranial hypertension. We investigated whether measurements of ONSD correlated with simultaneous noninvasive and invasive measurements of the intracranial pressure (ICP) in brain-injured adults.
Seventy-six critical care patients (58 males; 47 ± 18 years old) were included in the study. Fifty patients suffered from brain injury, whereas 26 had no intracranial pathology and served as control individuals. Initially, brain-injured patients were evaluated clinically (Glasgow Coma Scale) and using a semiquantitative (I to VI) neuroimaging scale (Marshall Scale). Thereafter, the patients were divided into those with moderate (Marshall Scale = I and Glasgow Coma Scale > 8 [n = 18]) and severe (Marshall Scale = II to VI and Glasgow Coma Scale ≤8 [n = 32]) brain injury. All patients underwent noninvasive measurement of the ICP (estimated ICP) by transcranial Doppler sonography, and synchronous ONSD measurements by optic nerve sonography. Finally, invasive ICP measurement using an intraparenchymal catheter was performed in patients with severe brain injury.
ONSD and estimated ICP were both significantly increased (6.1 ± 0.7 mm and 26.2 ± 8.7 mmHg, respectively; P < 0.0001) in patients with severe brain injury as compared with patients with moderate brain injury (4.2 ± 1.2 mm and 12.0 ± 3.6 mmHg) and compared with control individuals (3.6 ± 0.6 mm and 10.3 ± 3.1 mmHg). Furthermore, in patients with severe brain injury the ONSD measurements were strongly correlated with estimated ICP values (r = 0.80, P < 0.0001) as well as with the neuroimaging scale results (r = 0.82, P < 0.001). In the patients with severe brain injury, ONSD measurements correlated with invasive ICP values (r = 0.68, P = 0.002). The best cut-off value of ONSD for predicting elevated ICP was 5.7 mm (sensitivity = 74.1% and specificity = 100%).
ONSD measurements correlate with noninvasive and invasive measurements of the ICP, and with head computed tomography scan findings in brain-injured adults. Hence, optic nerve sonography may serve as an additional diagnostic tool that could alert clinicians to the presence of elevated ICP, whenever invasive ICP evaluation is contraindicated and/or is not available. This trial is International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number registered (ISRCTN 91941687).
PMCID: PMC2481450  PMID: 18477382
10.  Adult brain abscess associated with patent foramen ovale: a case report 
Brain abscess results from local or metastatic septic spread to the brain. The primary infectious site is often undetected, more commonly so when it is distant. Unlike pediatric congenital heart disease, minor intracardiac right-to-left shunting due to patent foramen ovale has not been appreciated as a cause of brain abscess in adults. Here we present a case of brain abscess associated with a patent foramen ovale in a 53-year old man with dental-gingival sepsis treated in the intensive care unit. Based on this case and the relevant literature we suggest a link between a silent patent foramen ovale, paradoxic pathogen dissemination to the brain, and development of brain abscess.
PMCID: PMC2018709  PMID: 17718904
11.  Real-time ultrasound-guided catheterisation of the internal jugular vein: a prospective comparison with the landmark technique in critical care patients 
Critical Care  2006;10(6):R162.
Central venous cannulation is crucial in the management of the critical care patient. This study was designed to evaluate whether real-time ultrasound-guided cannulation of the internal jugular vein is superior to the standard landmark method.
In this randomised study, 450 critical care patients who underwent real-time ultrasound-guided cannulation of the internal jugular vein were prospectively compared with 450 critical care patients in whom the landmark technique was used. Randomisation was performed by means of a computer-generated random-numbers table, and patients were stratified with regard to age, gender, and body mass index.
There were no significant differences in gender, age, body mass index, or side of cannulation (left or right) or in the presence of risk factors for difficult venous cannulation such as prior catheterisation, limited sites for access attempts, previous difficulties during catheterisation, previous mechanical complication, known vascular abnormality, untreated coagulopathy, skeletal deformity, and cannulation during cardiac arrest between the two groups of patients. Furthermore, the physicians who performed the procedures had comparable experience in the placement of central venous catheters (p = non-significant). Cannulation of the internal jugular vein was achieved in all patients by using ultrasound and in 425 of the patients (94.4%) by using the landmark technique (p < 0.001). Average access time (skin to vein) and number of attempts were significantly reduced in the ultrasound group of patients compared with the landmark group (p < 0.001). In the landmark group, puncture of the carotid artery occurred in 10.6% of patients, haematoma in 8.4%, haemothorax in 1.7%, pneumothorax in 2.4%, and central venous catheter-associated blood stream infection in 16%, which were all significantly increased compared with the ultrasound group (p < 0.001).
The present data suggest that ultrasound-guided catheterisation of the internal jugular vein in critical care patients is superior to the landmark technique and therefore should be the method of choice in these patients.
PMCID: PMC1794469  PMID: 17112371
12.  Decreased duration of mechanical ventilation when comparing analgesia-based sedation using remifentanil with standard hypnotic-based sedation for up to 10 days in intensive care unit patients: a randomised trial [ISRCTN47583497] 
Critical Care  2005;9(3):R200-R210.
This randomised, open-label, multicentre study compared the safety and efficacy of an analgesia-based sedation regime using remifentanil with a conventional hypnotic-based sedation regime in critically ill patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation for up to 10 days.
One hundred and five randomised patients received either a remifentanil-based sedation regime (initial dose 6 to 9 μg kg-1 h-1 (0.1 to 0.15 μg kg-1 min-1) titrated to response before the addition of midazolam for further sedation (n = 57), or a midazolam-based sedation regime with fentanyl or morphine added for analgesia (n = 48). Patients were sedated to an optimal Sedation–Agitation Scale (SAS) score of 3 or 4 and a pain intensity (PI) score of 1 or 2.
The remifentanil-based sedation regime significantly reduced the duration of mechanical ventilation by more than 2 days (53.5 hours, P = 0.033), and significantly reduced the time from the start of the weaning process to extubation by more than 1 day (26.6 hours, P < 0.001). There was a trend towards shortening the stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) by 1 day. The median time of optimal SAS and PI was the same in both groups. There was a significant difference in the median time to offset of pharmacodynamic effects when discontinuing study medication in patients not extubated at 10 days (remifentanil 0.250 hour, comparator 1.167 hours; P < 0.001). Of the patients treated with remifentanil, 26% did not receive any midazolam during the study. In those patients that did receive midazolam, the use of remifentanil considerably reduced the total dose of midazolam required. Between days 3 and 10 the weighted mean infusion rate of remifentanil remained constant with no evidence of accumulation or of a development of tolerance to remifentanil. There was no difference between the groups in SAS or PI score in the 24 hours after stopping the study medication. Remifentanil was well tolerated.
Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil was well tolerated; it reduces the duration of mechanical ventilation and improves the weaning process compared with standard hypnotic-based sedation regimes in ICU patients requiring long-term ventilation for up to 10 days.
PMCID: PMC1175879  PMID: 15987391
13.  Safety and efficacy of analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil versus standard hypnotic-based regimens in intensive care unit patients with brain injuries: a randomised, controlled trial [ISRCTN50308308] 
Critical Care  2004;8(4):R268-R280.
This randomised, open-label, observational, multicentre, parallel group study assessed the safety and efficacy of analgesia-based sedation using remifentanil in the neuro-intensive care unit.
Patients aged 18–80 years admitted to the intensive care unit within the previous 24 hours, with acute brain injury or after neurosurgery, intubated, expected to require mechanical ventilation for 1–5 days and requiring daily downward titration of sedation for assessment of neurological function were studied. Patients received one of two treatment regimens. Regimen one consisted of analgesia-based sedation, in which remifentanil (initial rate 9 μg kg-1 h-1) was titrated before the addition of a hypnotic agent (propofol [0.5 mg kg-1 h-1] during days 1–3, midazolam [0.03 mg kg-1 h-1] during days 4 and 5) (n = 84). Regimen two consisted of hypnotic-based sedation: hypnotic agent (propofol days 1–3; midazolam days 4 and 5) and fentanyl (n = 37) or morphine (n = 40) according to routine clinical practice. For each regimen, agents were titrated to achieve optimal sedation (Sedation–Agitation Scale score 1–3) and analgesia (Pain Intensity score 1–2).
Overall, between-patient variability around the time of neurological assessment was statistically significantly smaller when using remifentanil (remifentanil 0.44 versus fentanyl 0.86 [P = 0.024] versus morphine 0.98 [P = 0.006]. Overall, mean neurological assessment times were significantly shorter when using remifentanil (remifentanil 0.41 hour versus fentanyl 0.71 hour [P = 0.001] versus morphine 0.82 hour [P < 0.001]). Patients receiving the remifentanil-based regimen were extubated significantly faster than those treated with morphine (1.0 hour versus 1.93 hour, P = 0.001) but there was no difference between remifentanil and fentanyl. Remifentanil was effective, well tolerated and provided comparable haemodynamic stability to that of the hypnotic-based regimen. Over three times as many users rated analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil as very good or excellent in facilitating assessment of neurological function compared with the hypnotic-based regimen.
Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil permitted significantly faster and more predictable awakening for neurological assessment. Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil was very effective, well tolerated and had a similar adverse event and haemodynamic profile to those of hypnotic-based regimens when used in critically ill neuro-intensive care unit patients for up to 5 days.
PMCID: PMC522854  PMID: 15312228
analgesia-based sedation; fentanyl; intensive care; morphine; remifentanil
14.  Mediastinitis complicating a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy: a case report 
BMC Gastroenterology  2003;3:11.
Since its introduction in the early 1980s, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy has become the most popular method for performing a gastrostomy for long-term enteral feeding. It has been associated, however, with a lot of minor and major complications.
Case presentation
A case of mediastinitis with concominant sepsis caused by a masked esophageal perforation after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy in a multi-traumatized, brain-injured patient is presented. Ten – fourteen days after the procedure, the patient became febrile and gradually septic with tenderness of the sternum and upper abdomen. Computerized tomography of the thorax revealed mediastinitis. An urgent left thoracotomy and laparotomy were performed for drainage of the mediastinum, removal of the gastrostomy and insertion of a jejunostomy tube. The patient improved soon after the surgery. He was successfully weaned off the ventilator and was discharged from the Intensive Care Unit.
Perforating mediastinitis is a rare but potentially lethal complication of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. When diagnosed and properly treated it may have a favourable outcome.
PMCID: PMC165419  PMID: 12791167
Mediastinitis; percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy; complications; intensive care unit; brain injury

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