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1.  Fever in sepsis: is it cool to be hot? 
Critical Care  2014;18(1):109.
Changes in body temperature are a characteristic feature of sepsis. The study by Kushimoto and colleagues in a recent issue of Critical Care demonstrates that hypothermia is a very important manifestation of infection associated with very high mortality. Combined with recent data suggesting that febrile patients with infections have the lowest mortality risk, the study raises the question of whether inducing therapeutic hyperthermia might be beneficial in this patient group. Body temperature is easily measured and manipulated in the ICU, and interventional trials defining the most appropriate temperature targets in ICU patients with infections are urgently needed. One such study is in progress.
doi:10.1186/cc13726
PMCID: PMC4056432  PMID: 24521542
2.  Erythropoietin in traumatic brain injury: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2015;16:39.
Background
Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Laboratory and clinical studies demonstrate a possible beneficial effect of erythropoietin in improving outcomes in the traumatic brain injury cohort. However, there are concerns regarding the association of erythropoietin and thrombosis in the critically ill. A large-scale, multi-centre, blinded, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, randomised trial is currently underway to address this hypothesis.
Methods/design
The erythropoietin in traumatic brain injury trial is a stratified prospective, multi-centre, randomised, blinded, parallel-group, placebo-controlled phase III trial. It aims to determine whether the administration of erythropoietin compared to placebo improves neurological outcome in patients with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury at six months after injury. The trial is designed to recruit 606 patients between 15 and 65 years of age with severe (Glasgow Coma Score: 3 to 8) or moderate (Glasgow Coma Score: 9 to 12) traumatic brain injury in Australia, New Zealand, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, France, Finland, Germany and Ireland.
Trial patients will receive either subcutaneous erythropoietin or placebo within 24 hours of injury, and weekly thereafter for up to three doses during the intensive care unit admission. The primary outcome will be the combined proportion of unfavourable neurological outcomes at six months: severe disability or death. Secondary outcomes will include the rate of proximal deep venous thrombosis detected by compression Doppler ultrasound, six-month mortality, the proportion of patients with composite vascular events (deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest and cerebrovascular events) at six months and quality of life with health economic evaluations.
Discussion
When completed, the trial aims to provide evidence on the efficacy and safety of erythropoietin in traumatic brain injury patients, and to provide clear guidance for clinicians in their management of this devastating condition.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials registry: ACTRN12609000827235 (registered on 22 September 2009).
Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00987454 (registered on 29 September 2009). European Drug Regulatory Authorities Clinical Trials: 2011-005235-22 (registered on 18 January 2012).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-014-0528-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-014-0528-6
PMCID: PMC4326467
Traumatic brain injury; Erythropoietin; Outcome; Critical care; Randomised controlled trials
3.  Physiological changes after fluid bolus therapy in sepsis: a systematic review of contemporary data 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):696.
Fluid bolus therapy (FBT) is a standard of care in the management of the septic, hypotensive, tachycardic and/or oliguric patient. However, contemporary evidence for FBT improving patient-centred outcomes is scant. Moreover, its physiological effects in contemporary ICU environments and populations are poorly understood. Using three electronic databases, we identified all studies describing FBT between January 2010 and December 2013. We found 33 studies describing 41 boluses. No randomised controlled trials compared FBT with alternative interventions, such as vasopressors. The median fluid bolus was 500 ml (range 100 to 1,000 ml) administered over 30 minutes (range 10 to 60 minutes) and the most commonly administered fluid was 0.9% sodium chloride solution. In 19 studies, a predetermined physiological trigger initiated FBT. Although 17 studies describe the temporal course of physiological changes after FBT in 31 patient groups, only three studies describe the physiological changes at 60 minutes, and only one study beyond this point. No studies related the physiological changes after FBT with clinically relevant outcomes. There is a clear need for at least obtaining randomised controlled evidence for the physiological effects of FBT in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock beyond the period immediately after its administration.
‘Just as water retains no shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions’
Sun Tzu (‘The Art of War’)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0696-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0696-5
PMCID: PMC4331149  PMID: 25673138
4.  Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography to evaluate changes in renal cortical microcirculation induced by noradrenaline: a pilot study 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):653.
Introduction
We used contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) to estimate the effect of an increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP) induced by noradrenaline infusion on renal microvascular cortical perfusion in critically ill patients.
Methods
Twelve patients requiring a noradrenaline infusion to maintain a MAP more than 60 mmHg within 48 hours of intensive care unit admission were included in the study. Renal CEUS scans with destruction-replenishment sequences and Sonovue® (Bracco, Milano Italy) as a contrast agent, were performed at baseline (MAP 60 to 65 mmHg) and after a noradrenaline-induced increase in MAP to 80 to 85 mmHg.
Results
There was no adverse effect associated with ultrasound contrast agent administration or increase in noradrenaline infusion rate. Adequate images were obtained in all patients at all study times. To reach the higher MAP target, median noradrenaline infusion rate was increased from 10 to 14 μg/min.
Noradrenaline-induced increases in MAP were not associated with a significant change in overall CEUS derived mean perfusion indices (median perfusion index 3056 (interquartile range: 2438 to 6771) arbitrary units (a.u.) at baseline versus 4101 (3067 to 5981) a.u. after MAP increase, P = 0.38). At individual level, however, we observed important heterogeneity in responses (range -51% to +97% changes from baseline).
Conclusions
A noradrenaline-induced increase in MAP was not associated with an overall increase in renal cortical perfusion as estimated by CEUS. However, at individual level, such response was heterogeneous and unpredictable suggesting great variability in pressure responsiveness within a cohort with a similar clinical phenotype.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0653-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0653-3
PMCID: PMC4262130  PMID: 25439317
5.  Effects of selective β1-adrenoceptor blockade on cardiovascular and renal function and circulating cytokines in ovine hyperdynamic sepsis 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):610.
Introduction
Activation of the sympathetic nervous system has beneficial cardiovascular effects in sepsis, but there is also evidence that sympatholytics have beneficial actions in sepsis. We therefore determined the effect of selective β1-adrenoceptor blockade on cardiac and renal function and cytokine release in ovine hyperdynamic sepsis.
Methods
Hyperdynamic sepsis was induced by infusion of live E. coli for 24 hours in nine conscious sheep instrumented with flow probes on the pulmonary and left renal artery. Cardiovascular and renal function and levels of plasma cytokines were determined in a control group and during selective β1-adrenoceptor blockade with atenolol (10 mg intravenous bolus then 0.125 mg/kg/h) from 8 to 24 hours of sepsis.
Results
Hyperdynamic sepsis was characterized by hypotension with increases in cardiac output (CO), heart rate (HR) and renal blood flow (RBF), and acute kidney injury. Atenolol caused sustained reductions in HR (P <0.001) and CO (P <0.001). Despite the lower CO the sepsis-induced fall in mean arterial pressure (MAP) was similar in both groups. The sepsis-induced increase in RBF, decrease in renal function and increase in arterial lactate were unaffected by atenolol. Sepsis increased plasma levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and IL-10. Atenolol caused a further increase in IL-10, but did not affect levels of TNF-α or IL-6.
Conclusions
In sepsis, selective β1-adrenoceptor blockade reduced CO, but not MAP. During sepsis, atenolol did not alter the development of acute kidney injury or the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, but enhanced the release of IL-10. Atenolol appears safe in sepsis, has no deleterious cardiovascular or renal effects, and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0610-1
PMCID: PMC4262191  PMID: 25413250
6.  Haemostatic management for aortic valve replacement in a patient with advanced liver disease 
Redo-sternotomy and aortic valve replacement in patients with advanced liver disease is rare and associated with a prohibitive morbidity and mortality. Refractory coagulopathy is common and a consequence of intense activation of the coagulation system that can be triggered by contact of blood with the cardiopulmonary bypass circuitry, bypass-induced fibrinolysis, platelet activation and dysfunction, haemodilution, surgical trauma, hepatic decompensation and hypothermia. Management can be further complicated by right heart dysfunction, porto-pulmonary hypertension, poor myocardial protection, and hepato-renal syndrome. Complex interactions between coagulation/fibrinolysis and systemic inflammatory response syndrome reactions like “post-perfusion-syndrome” also compound haemostatic failure. Given the limited information available for the specific management and prevention of cardiopulmonary bypass-induced haemostatic failure, this report serves to guide the anaesthesia and medical management of future cases of a similar kind. We discuss our multimodal management of haemostatic failure using pharmacological strategies, thromboelastography, continuous cerebral and liver oximetry, and continuous cardiac output monitoring.
doi:10.12998/wjcc.v2.i10.596
PMCID: PMC4198416  PMID: 25325074
Cardiac surgery; Liver failure; Coagulopathy; Cardiopulmonary bypass
7.  Re-thinking resuscitation goals: an alternative point of view! 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):458.
doi:10.1186/cc12775
PMCID: PMC4057104  PMID: 24103536
8.  Current ventilation practice during general anaesthesia: a prospective audit in Melbourne, Australia 
BMC Anesthesiology  2014;14(1):85.
Background
Recent evidence suggests that the use of low tidal volume ventilation with the application of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) may benefit patients at risk of respiratory complications during general anaesthesia. However current Australian practice in this area is unknown.
Methods
To describe current practice of intraoperative ventilation with regard to tidal volume and application of PEEP, we performed a multicentre audit in patients undergoing general anaesthesia across eight teaching hospitals in Melbourne, Australia.
Results
We obtained information including demographic characteristics, type of surgery, tidal volume and the use of PEEP in a consecutive cohort of 272 patients. The median age was 56 (IQR 42–69) years; 150 (55%) were male. Most common diagnostic groups were general surgery (31%), orthopaedic surgery (20%) and neurosurgery (9.6%). Mean FiO2 was 0.6 (IQR 0.5-0.7). Median tidal volume was 500 ml (IQR 450-550). PEEP was used in 54% of patients with a median value of 5.0 cmH2O (IQR 4.0-5.0) and median tidal volume corrected for predicted body weight was 9.5 ml/kg (IQR 8.5-10.4). Median peak inspiratory pressure was 18 cmH2O (IQR 15–22). In a cohort of patients considered at risk for respiratory complications, the median tidal volume was still 9.8 ml/kg (IQR 8.6-10.7) and PEEP was applied in 66% of patients with a median value of 5 cmH20 (IQR 4–5). On multivariate analyses positive predictors of tidal volume size included male sex (p < 0.01), height (p = 0.04) and weight (p < 0.001). Positive predictors of the use of PEEP included surgery in a tertiary hospital (OR = 3.11; 95% CI: 1.05 to 9.23) and expected prolonged duration of surgery (OR = 2.47; 95% CI: 1.04 to 5.84).
Conclusion
In mechanically ventilated patients under general anaesthesia, tidal volume was high and PEEP was applied to the majority of patients, but at modest levels. The findings of our study suggest that the control groups of previous randomized controlled trials do not closely reflect the practice of mechanical ventilation in Australia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-85
PMCID: PMC4190393  PMID: 25302048
Tidal volume; PEEP; Intraoperative ventilation; Anaesthesia
9.  Urine biochemistry in septic and non-septic acute kidney injury: a prospective observational study✩,✩✩ 
Journal of critical care  2012;28(4):371-378.
Purpose
Determine whether there are unique patterns to the urine biochemistry profile in septic compared with non-septic acute kidney injury (AKI) and whether urinary biochemistry predicts worsening AKI, need for renal replacement therapy and mortality.
Materials and Methods
Prospective cohort study of critically ill patients with septic and non-septic AKI, defined by the RIFLE (Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End-Stage) criteria. Urine biochemistry parameters were compared between septic and non-septic AKI and were correlated with neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), worsening AKI, renal replacement therapy (RRT), and mortality.
Results
Eighty-three patients were enrolled, 43 (51.8%) with sepsis. RIFLE class was not different between groups (P = .43). Urine sodium (UNa) <20 mmol/L, fractional excretion of sodium (FeNa) <1%, and fractional excretion of urea (FeU) < 35% were observed in 25.3%, 57.8%, and 33.7%, respectively. Septic AKI had lower UNa compared with non-septic AKI (P = .04). There were no differences in FeNa or FeU between groups. Urine NGAL was higher for FeNa≥1% compared to FeNa<1% (177.4 ng/mL [31.9-956.5] vs 48.0 ng/mL [21.1-232.4], P = .04). FeNa showed low correlation with urine NGAL (P = .05) and plasma NGAL (P = .14). There was poor correlation between FeU and urine NGAL (P = .70) or plasma NGAL (P = .41). UNa, FeNa, and FeU showed poor discrimination for worsening AKI, RRT and mortality.
Conclusion
Urine biochemical profiles do not discriminate septic and non-septic AKI. UNa, FeNa, and FeU do not reliably predict biomarker release, worsening AKI, RRT or mortality. These data imply limited utility for these measures in clinical practice in critically ill patients with AKI.
doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2012.10.007
PMCID: PMC4145696  PMID: 23159144
Acute kidney injury; Fractional excretion of sodium; Fractional excretion of urea; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin; Sepsis; Renal replacement therapy
10.  Extended Renal Outcomes with Use of Iodixanol versus Iohexol after Coronary Angiography 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:506479.
The impact of isoosmolar versus low-osmolar contrast media (CM) administration on contrast-induced acute kidney injury (CI-AKI) and extended renal dysfunction (ERD) is unclear. We retrospectively examined incidences of CI-AKI and ERD in patients who received iodixanol (isoosmolar) versus iohexol (low-osmolar) during angiography for cardiac indications. Of 713 patients, 560 (cohort A), 190 (cohort B), and 172 (cohort C) had serum creatinine monitored at 3 days, 30 days, and 6 months after angiography, respectively. 18% of cohort A developed CI-AKI, which was more common with iodixanol than iohexol (22% versus 13%, P = 0.006). However, patients given iodixanol were older with lower baseline estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR). On multivariate analysis, independent associations with higher CI-AKI risk include age >65 years, female gender, cardiac failure, ST-elevation myocardial infarction, intra-aortic balloon pump, and critical illness, but not CM type, higher CM load, or eGFR < 45 mL/min/1.73 m2. 32% of cohort B and 34% of cohort C had ERD at 30 days and 6 months, while 44% and 41% of subcohorts had ERD at 90 days and 1 year, respectively. CI-AKI, but not CM type, was associated with medium- and longer-term ERD, with 3-fold higher risk. Advanced age, emergent cardiac conditions, and critical illness are stronger predictors of CI-AKI, compared with CM-related factors. CI-AKI predicts longer-term ERD.
doi:10.1155/2014/506479
PMCID: PMC4142278  PMID: 25180184
11.  Intensive care sedation: the past, present and the future 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):322.
Despite the universal prescription of sedative drugs in the intensive care unit (ICU), current practice is not guided by high-level evidence. Landmark sedation trials have made significant contributions to our understanding of the problems associated with ICU sedation and have promoted changes to current practice. We identified challenges and limitations of clinical trials which reduced the generalizability and the universal adoption of key interventions. We present an international perspective regarding current sedation practice and a blueprint for future research, which seeks to avoid known limitations and generate much-needed high-level evidence to better guide clinicians' management and therapeutic choices of sedative agents.
doi:10.1186/cc12679
PMCID: PMC3706847  PMID: 23758942
12.  Urinalysis and pre-renal acute kidney injury: time to move on 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):141.
Urinary indices are classically believed to allow differentiation of transient (or pre-renal) acute kidney injury (AKI) from persistent (or acute tubular necrosis) AKI. However, the data validating urinalysis in critically ill patients are weak. In the previous issue of Critical Care, Pons and colleagues demonstrate in a multicenter observational study that sodium and urea excretion fractions as well as urinary over plasma ratios performed poorly as diagnostic tests to separate such entities. This study confirms the limited diagnostic and prognostic ability of urine testing. Together with other studies, this study raises more fundamental questions about the value, meaning and pathophysiologic validity of the pre-renal AKI paradigm and suggests that AKI (like all other forms of organ injury) is a continuum of injury that cannot be neatly divided into functional (pre-renal or transient) or structural (acute tubular necrosis or persistent).
doi:10.1186/cc12676
PMCID: PMC3672654  PMID: 23659200
13.  Clinical review: The role of the intensivist and the rapid response team in nosocomial end-of-life care 
Critical Care  2013;17(2):224.
In-hospital end-of-life care outside the ICU is a new and increasing aspect of practice for intensive care physicians in countries where rapid response teams have been introduced. As more of these patients die from withdrawal or withholding of artificial life support, determining whether a patient is dying or not has become as important to intensivists as the management of organ support therapy itself. Intensivists have now moved to making such decisions in hospital wards outside the boundaries of their usual closely monitored environment. This strategic change may cause concern to some intensivists; however, as custodians of the highest technology area in the hospital, intensivists are by necessity involved in such processes. Now, more than ever before, intensive care clinicians must consider the usefulness of key concepts surrounding nosocomial death and dying and the importance and value of making a formal diagnosis of dying in the wards. In this article, we assess the conceptual background, reference points, challenges and implications of these emerging aspects of intensive care medicine.
doi:10.1186/cc11856
PMCID: PMC3672544  PMID: 23672813
14.  Albumin Resuscitation for Traumatic Brain Injury: Is Intracranial Hypertension the Cause of Increased Mortality? 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2013;30(7):512-518.
Abstract
Mortality is higher in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) resuscitated with albumin compared with saline, but the mechanism for increased mortality is unknown. In patients from the Saline vs. Albumin Fluid Evaluation (SAFE) study with TBI who underwent intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring, interventional data were collected from randomization to day 14 to determine changes in ICP (primary outcome) and in therapies used to treat increased ICP. Pattern mixture modelling, designed to address informative dropouts, was used to compare temporal changes between the albumin and saline groups, and 321 patients were identified, of whom 164 (51.1%) received albumin and 157 (48.9%) received saline. There was a significant linear increase in mean ICP and significantly more deaths in the albumin group compared with saline when ICP monitoring was discontinued during the first week (1.30±0.33 vs. −0.37±0.36, p=0.0006; and 34.4% vs. 17.4%; p=0.006 respectively), but not when monitoring ceased during the second week (−0.08±0.44 vs. −0.23±0.38, p=0.79; and 18.6% vs. 12.1%; p=0.36 respectively). There were statistically significant differences in the mean total daily doses of morphine (−0.42±0.07 vs. −0.66±0.0, p=0.0009), propofol (−0.45±0.11 vs. −0.76±0.11; p=0.034) and norepinephrine (−0.50±0.07 vs. −0.74±0.07) and in temperature (0.03±0.03 vs. 0.16±0.03; p=0.0014) between the albumin and saline groups when ICP monitoring ceased during the first week. The use of albumin for resuscitation in patients with severe TBI is associated with increased ICP during the first week. This is the most likely mechanism of increased mortality in these patients.
doi:10.1089/neu.2012.2573
PMCID: PMC3636581  PMID: 23194432
albumin; ICP; resuscitation; saline; TBI
15.  Measurement of kidney perfusion in critically ill Patients 
Critical Care  2013;17(2):220.
doi:10.1186/cc12529
PMCID: PMC3672528  PMID: 23514525
16.  Calorie intake and patient outcomes in severe acute kidney injury: findings from The Randomized Evaluation of Normal vs. Augmented Level of Replacement Therapy (RENAL) study trial 
Critical Care  2014;18(2):R45.
Introduction
Current practice in the delivery of caloric intake (DCI) in patients with severe acute kidney injury (AKI) receiving renal replacement therapy (RRT) is unknown. We aimed to describe calorie administration in patients enrolled in the Randomized Evaluation of Normal vs. Augmented Level of Replacement Therapy (RENAL) study and to assess the association between DCI and clinical outcomes.
Methods
We performed a secondary analysis in 1456 patients from the RENAL trial. We measured the dose and evolution of DCI during treatment and analyzed its association with major clinical outcomes using multivariable logistic regression, Cox proportional hazards models, and time adjusted models.
Results
Overall, mean DCI during treatment in ICU was low at only 10.9 ± 9 Kcal/kg/day for non-survivors and 11 ± 9 Kcal/kg/day for survivors. Among patients with a lower DCI (below the median) 334 of 729 (45.8%) had died at 90-days after randomization compared with 316 of 727 (43.3%) patients with a higher DCI (above the median) (P = 0.34). On multivariable logistic regression analysis, mean DCI carried an odds ratio of 0.95 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.91-1.00; P = 0.06) per 100 Kcal increase for 90-day mortality. DCI was not associated with significant differences in renal replacement (RRT) free days, mechanical ventilation free days, ICU free days and hospital free days. These findings remained essentially unaltered after time adjusted analysis and Cox proportional hazards modeling.
Conclusions
In the RENAL study, mean DCI was low. Within the limits of such low caloric intake, greater DCI was not associated with improved clinical outcomes.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00221013
doi:10.1186/cc13767
PMCID: PMC4057152  PMID: 24629036
17.  Stress hyperglycemia: an essential survival response! 
Critical Care  2013;17(2):305.
Stress hyperglycemia is common in critically ill patients and appears to be a marker of disease severity. Furthermore, both the admission as well as the mean glucose level during the hospital stay is strongly associated with patient outcomes. Clinicians, researchers and policy makers have assumed this association to be causal with the widespread adoption of protocols and programs for tight in-hospital glycemic control. However, a critical appraisal of the literature has demonstrated that attempts at tight glycemic control in both ICU and non-ICU patients do not improve health care outcomes. We suggest that hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in the setting of acute illness is an evolutionarily preserved adaptive responsive that increases the host's chances of survival. Furthermore, attempts to interfere with this exceedingly complex multi-system adaptive response may be harmful. This paper reviews the pathophysiology of stress hyperglycemia and insulin resistance and the protective role of stress hyperglycemia during acute illness.
doi:10.1186/cc12514
PMCID: PMC3672537  PMID: 23470218
18.  Clinical review: Early patient mobilization in the ICU 
Critical Care  2013;17(1):207.
Early mobilization (EM) of ICU patients is a physiologically logical intervention to attenuate critical illness-associated muscle weakness. However, its long-term value remains controversial. We performed a detailed analytical review of the literature using multiple relevant key terms in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of current knowledge on EM in critically ill patients. We found that the term EM remains undefined and encompasses a range of heterogeneous interventions that have been used alone or in combination. Nonetheless, several studies suggest that different forms of EM may be both safe and feasible in ICU patients, including those receiving mechanical ventilation. Unfortunately, these studies of EM are mostly single center in design, have limited external validity and have highly variable control treatments. In addition, new technology to facilitate EM such as cycle ergometry, transcutaneous electrical muscle stimulation and video therapy are increasingly being used to achieve such EM despite limited evidence of efficacy. We conclude that although preliminary low-level evidence suggests that EM in the ICU is safe, feasible and may yield clinical benefits, EM is also labor-intensive and requires appropriate staffing models and equipment. More research is thus required to identify current standard practice, optimal EM techniques and appropriate outcome measures before EM can be introduced into the routine care of critically ill patients.
doi:10.1186/cc11820
PMCID: PMC4057255  PMID: 23672747
19.  Long-Term Survival and Dialysis Dependency Following Acute Kidney Injury in Intensive Care: Extended Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001601.
Martin Gallagher and colleagues examine the long-term outcomes of renal replacement therapy (RRT) dosing in patients with acute kidney injury randomized to normal vs. augmented RRT.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The incidence of acute kidney injury (AKI) is increasing globally and it is much more common than end-stage kidney disease. AKI is associated with high mortality and cost of hospitalisation. Studies of treatments to reduce this high mortality have used differing renal replacement therapy (RRT) modalities and have not shown improvement in the short term. The reported long-term outcomes of AKI are variable and the effect of differing RRT modalities upon them is not clear. We used the prolonged follow-up of a large clinical trial to prospectively examine the long-term outcomes and effect of RRT dosing in patients with AKI.
Methods and Findings
We extended the follow-up of participants in the Randomised Evaluation of Normal vs. Augmented Levels of RRT (RENAL) study from 90 days to 4 years after randomization. Primary and secondary outcomes were mortality and requirement for maintenance dialysis, respectively, assessed in 1,464 (97%) patients at a median of 43.9 months (interquartile range [IQR] 30.0–48.6 months) post randomization. A total of 468/743 (63%) and 444/721 (62%) patients died in the lower and higher intensity groups, respectively (risk ratio [RR] 1.04, 95% CI 0.96–1.12, p = 0.49). Amongst survivors to day 90, 21 of 411 (5.1%) and 23 of 399 (5.8%) in the respective groups were treated with maintenance dialysis (RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.63–2.00, p = 0.69). The prevalence of albuminuria among survivors was 40% and 44%, respectively (p = 0.48). Quality of life was not different between the two treatment groups. The generalizability of these findings to other populations with AKI requires further exploration.
Conclusions
Patients with AKI requiring RRT in intensive care have high long-term mortality but few require maintenance dialysis. Long-term survivors have a heavy burden of proteinuria. Increased intensity of RRT does not reduce mortality or subsequent treatment with dialysis.
Trial registration
www.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00221013
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Throughout life, the kidneys perform the essential task of filtering waste products (from the normal breakdown of tissues and from food) and excess water from the blood to make urine. Chronic kidney disease (caused, for example, by diabetes) gradually destroys the kidneys' filtration units (the nephrons), eventually leading to life-threatening end-stage kidney disease. However, the kidneys can also stop working suddenly because of injury, infection, or poisoning. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is much more common than end-stage kidney disease and its incidence is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, the number of hospitalizations that included an AKI diagnosis rose from 4,000 in 1996 to 23,000 in 2008. Moreover, nearly half of patients with AKI will die shortly after the condition develops. Symptoms of AKI include changes in urination, swollen feet and ankles, and tiredness. Treatments for AKI aim to prevent fluid and waste build up in the body and treat the underlying cause (e.g., severe infection or dehydration) while allowing the kidneys time to recover. In some patients, it is sufficient to limit the fluid intake and to reduce waste build-up by eating a diet that is low in protein, salt, and potassium. Other patients need renal replacement therapy (RRT), life-supporting treatments such as hemodialysis and hemofiltration, two processes that clean the blood by filtering it outside the body.
Why Was This Study Done?
The long-term outcomes of AKI (specifically, death and chronic kidney disease) and the effects of different RRT modalities on these outcomes are unclear. A recent controlled trial that randomly assigned patients with AKI who were managed in intensive care units (ICUs) to receive two different intensities of continuous hemodiafiltration (a combination of hemodialysis and hemofiltration) found no difference in all-cause mortality (death) at 90 days. Here, the researchers extend the follow-up of this trial (the Randomized Evaluation of Normal vs. Augmented Levels of renal replacement therapy [RENAL] study) to investigate longer-term mortality, the variables that predict mortality, treatment with long-term dialysis (an indicator of chronic kidney disease), and functional outcomes in patients with AKI treated with different intensities of continuous RRT.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For the Prolonged Outcomes Study of RENAL (POST-RENAL), the researchers extended the follow-up of the RENAL participants up to 4 years. Over an average follow-up of 43.9 months, 63% of patients in the lower intensity treatment group died compared to 62% of patients in the higher intensity group. Overall, a third of patients who survived to 90 days died during the extended follow-up. Among the survivors to day 90, 5.1% and 5.8% of patients in the lower and higher intensity groups, respectively, were treated with maintenance dialysis during the extended follow-up. Among survivors who consented to analysis, 40% and 44% of patients in the lower and higher intensity groups, respectively, had albuminuria (protein in the urine, an indicator of kidney damage). Patients in both groups had a similar quality life (determined through telephone interviews). Finally, increasing age, APACHE III score (a scoring system that predicts the survival of patients in ICU), and serum creatinine level (an indicator of kidney function) at randomization were all predictors of long-term mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that patients with AKI in ICUs who require RRT have a high long-term mortality. They show that few survivors require maintenance dialysis for chronic kidney disease but that there is a substantial rate of albuminuria among survivors despite relative preservation of kidney function. The findings also suggest that the intensity of RRT has no significant effect on mortality or the need for dialysis. Because these findings were obtained in a randomized controlled trial, they may not be generalizable to other patient populations. Moreover, although data on mortality and maintenance dialysis were available for all the trial participants, clinical and biochemical outcomes were only available for some participants and may not be representative of all the participants. Despite these study limitations, these findings suggest that survivors of AKI may be at a high risk of death or of developing chronic kidney disease. Survivors of AKI are, therefore, at high risk of further illness and long-term albuminuria reduction strategies may offer a therapeutic intervention for this group of patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001601.
The US National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information about the kidneys and about all aspects of kidney disease and its treatment; the US National Kidney Disease Education Program provides resources to help improve the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The Mayo Clinic provides information for patients about acute kidney injury
Wikipedia has a page on acute kidney injury (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The not-for-profit UK National Kidney Federation provides support and information for patients with kidney disease and for their carers, including a link to a video about acute kidney injury
World Kidney Day, a joint initiative between the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF), aims to raise awareness about kidneys and kidney disease; its website provides information about acute kidney injury
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a pages about acute kidney failure and about renal dialysis
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published new guidelines on the treatment of acute kidney injury; a clinical practice guideline for acute kidney injury produced by KDIGO (a not-for-profit organization that aims to improve the care and outcomes of kidney disease patients worldwide through the development and implementation of global clinical practice guidelines) is available; the Acute Kidney Injury app provides a fast and simple way to explore guidelines on the diagnosis, prevention, and management of AKI
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001601
PMCID: PMC3921111  PMID: 24523666
20.  Age of red blood cells and outcome in acute kidney injury 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):R222.
Introduction
Transfusion of red blood cells (RBCs) and, in particular, older RBCs has been associated with increased short-term mortality in critically ill patients. We evaluated the association between age of transfused RBCs and acute kidney injury (AKI), hospital, and 90-day mortality in critically ill patients.
Methods
We conducted a prospective, observational, predefined sub-study within the FINNish Acute Kidney Injury (FINNAKI) study. This study included all elective ICU admissions with expected ICU stay of more than 24 hours and all emergency admissions from September to November 2011. To study the age of RBCs, we classified transfused patients into quartiles according to the age of oldest transfused RBC unit in the ICU. AKI was defined according to KDIGO (Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes) criteria.
Results
Out of 1798 patients, 652 received at least one RBC unit. The median [interquartile range] age of the oldest RBC unit transfused was 12 [11-13] days in the freshest quartile and 21 [17-27] days in the quartiles 2 to 4. On logistic regression, RBC age was not associated with the development of KDIGO stage 3 AKI. Patients in the quartile of freshest RBCs had lower crude hospital and 90-day mortality rates compared to those in the quartiles of older blood. After adjustments, older RBC age was associated with significantly increased risk for hospital mortality. Age, Simplified Acute Physiology Score II (SAPS II)-score without age points, maximum Sequental Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score and the total number of transfused RBC units were independently associated with 90-day mortality.
Conclusions
The age of transfused RBC units was independently associated with hospital mortality but not with 90-day mortality or KDIGO stage 3 AKI. The number of transfused RBC units was an independent risk factor for 90-day mortality.
doi:10.1186/cc13045
PMCID: PMC4057274  PMID: 24093554
21.  Glycaemic control in Australia and New Zealand before and after the NICE-SUGAR trial: a translational study 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):R215.
Introduction
There is no information on the uptake of Intensive Insulin Therapy (IIT) before the Normoglycemia in Intensive Care Evaluation and Surviving Using Glucose Algorithm Regulation (NICE-SUGAR) trial in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and on the bi-national response to the trial, yet such data would provide important information on the evolution of ANZ practice in this field. We aimed to study ANZ glycaemic control before and after the publication of the results of the NICE-SUGAR trial.
Methods
We analysed glucose control in critically ill patients across Australia and New Zealand during a two-year period before and after the publication of the NICE-SUGAR study. We used the mean first day glucose (Glu1) (a validated surrogate of ICU glucose control) to define practice. The implementation of an IIT protocol was presumed if the median of Glu1 measurements was <6.44 mmol/L for a given ICU. Hypoglycaemia was categorised as severe (glucose ≤2.2 mmol/L) or moderate (glucose ≤3.9 mmol/L).
Results
We studied 49 ICUs and 176,505 patients. No ICU practiced IIT before or after NICE-SUGAR. Overall, Glu1 increased from 7.96 (2.95) mmol/L to 8.03 (2.92) mmol/L (P <0.0001) after NICE-SUGAR. Similar increases were noted in all patient subgroups studied (surgical, medical, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, ICU stay >48/<48 hours). The rate of severe and moderate hypoglycaemia before and after NICE-SUGAR study were 0.59% vs. 0.55% (P =0.33) and 6.62% vs. 5.68% (P <0.0001), respectively. Both crude and adjusted mortalities declined over the study period.
Conclusions
IIT had not been adopted in ANZ before the NICE-SUGAR study and glycaemic control corresponded to that delivered in the control arm of NICE-SUGAR trial. There were only minor changes in practice after the trial toward looser glycaemic control. The rate of moderate hypoglycaemia and mortality decreased along with such changes.
doi:10.1186/cc13030
PMCID: PMC4056083  PMID: 24088368
22.  Patient-centered outcomes and trials of hydroxyethyl starch 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):452.
doi:10.1186/cc13023
PMCID: PMC4057475  PMID: 24073610
23.  The microbiological and clinical outcome of guide wire exchanged versus newly inserted antimicrobial surface treated central venous catheters 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):R184.
Introduction
The management of suspected central venous catheter (CVC)-related sepsis by guide wire exchange (GWX) is not recommended. However, GWX for new antimicrobial surface treated (AST) triple lumen CVCs has never been studied. We aimed to compare the microbiological outcome of triple lumen AST CVCs inserted by GWX (GWX-CVCs) with newly inserted triple lumen AST CVCs (NI-CVCs).
Methods
We studied a cohort of 145 consecutive patients with GWX-CVCs and contemporaneous site-matched control cohort of 163 patients with NI-CVCs in a tertiary intensive care unit (ICU).
Results
GWX-CVC and NI-CVC patients were similar for mean age (58.7 vs. 62.2 years), gender (88 (60.7%) vs. 98 (60.5%) male) and illness severity on admission (mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III: 71.3 vs. 72.2). However, GWX patients had longer median ICU lengths of stay (12.2 vs. 4.4 days; P < 0.001) and median hospital lengths of stay (30.7 vs. 18.0 days; P < 0.001). There was no significant difference with regard to the number of CVC tips with bacterial or fungal pathogen colonization among GWX-CVCs vs. NI-CVCs (5 (2.5%) vs. 6 (7.4%); P = 0.90). Catheter-associated blood stream infection (CA-BSI) occurred in 2 (1.4%) GWX patients compared with 3 (1.8%) NI-CVC patients (P = 0.75). There was no significant difference in hospital mortality (35 (24.1%) vs. 48 (29.4%); P = 0.29).
Conclusions
GWX-CVCs and NI-CVCs had similar rates of tip colonization at removal, CA-BSI and mortality. If the CVC removed by GWX is colonized, a new CVC must then be inserted at another site. In selected ICU patients at higher central vein puncture risk receiving AST CVCs GWX may be an acceptable initial approach to line insertion.
doi:10.1186/cc12867
PMCID: PMC4057507  PMID: 24004883
central venous catheters; catheter related blood stream infection; sepsis; bacteraemia; intensive care; Gram negative bacteria
24.  Clinical review: Volume of fluid resuscitation and the incidence of acute kidney injury - a systematic review 
Critical Care  2012;16(4):230.
Intravenous fluids are widely administered to maintain renal perfusion and prevent acute kidney injury (AKI). However, fluid overload is of concern during AKI. Using the Pubmed database (up to October 2011) we identified all randomised controlled studies of goal-directed therapy (GDT)-based fluid resuscitation (FR) reporting renal outcomes and documenting fluid given during perioperative care. In 24 perioperative studies, GDT was associated with decreased risk of postoperative AKI (odds ratio (OR) = 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.39 to 0.89) but additional fluid given was limited (median: 555 ml). Moreover, the decrease in AKI was greatest (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.29 to 0.76) in the 10 studies where FR was the same between GDT and control groups. Inotropic drug use in GDT patients was associated with decreased AKI (OR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.34 to 0.80, P = 0.003), whereas studies not involving inotropic drugs found no effect (OR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.37 to 1.53, P = 0.43). The greatest protection from AKI occurred in patients with no difference in total fluid delivery and use of inotropes (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.27 to 0.76, P = 0.0036). GDT-based FR may decrease AKI in surgical patients; however, this effect requires little overall FR and appears most effective when supported by inotropic drugs.
doi:10.1186/cc11345
PMCID: PMC3580679  PMID: 22866958
25.  Contrast-enhanced ultrasound to evaluate changes in renal cortical perfusion around cardiac surgery: a pilot study 
Critical Care  2013;17(4):R138.
Introduction
Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) is a new technique that might enable portable and non-invasive organ perfusion quantification at the bedside. However, it has not yet been tested in critically ill patients. We sought to establish CEUS's feasibility, safety, reproducibility and potential diagnostic value in the assessment of renal cortical perfusion in the peri-operative period in cardiac surgery patients.
Methods
We recruited twelve patients deemed at risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) planned for elective cardiac surgery. We performed renal CEUS with destruction-replenishment sequences before the operation, on ICU arrival and the day following the admission. Enhancement was obtained with Sonovue® (Bracco, Milano, Italy) at an infusion rate of 1 ml/min. We collected hemodynamic parameters before, during and after contrast agent infusion. At each study time, we obtained five video sequences, which were analysed using dedicated software by two independent radiologists blinded to patient and time. The main output was a perfusion index (PI), corresponding to the ratio of relative blood volume (RBV) over mean transit time (mTT).
Results
All 36 renal CEUS studies, including 24 in the immediate post-operative period could be performed and were well tolerated. Correlation between readers for PI was excellent (R2 = 0.96, P < 0.0001). Compared with baseline, there was no overall difference in median PI's on ICU admission. However, the day after surgery, median PI's had decreased by 50% (P < 0.01) (22% decrease in RBV (P = 0.09); 48% increase in mTT (P = 0.04), both suggestive of decreased perfusion). These differences persisted after correction for haemoglobin; vasopressors use and mean arterial pressure. Four patients developed AKI in the post-operative period.
Conclusions
CEUS appears feasible and well-tolerated in patients undergoing cardiac surgery even immediately after ICU admission. CEUS derived-parameters suggest a decrease in renal perfusion occurring within 24 hours of surgery.
doi:10.1186/cc12817
PMCID: PMC4056320  PMID: 23849270
Renal perfusion; microcirculation; contrast-enhanced ultrasonography; cardiac surgery; peri-operative period

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