Even though temperature is a continuous quantitative variable, its measurement has been considered a snapshot of a process, indicating whether a patient is febrile or afebrile. Recently, other diagnostic techniques have been proposed for the association between different properties of the temperature curve with severity of illness in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), based on complexity analysis of continuously monitored body temperature. In this study, we tried to assess temperature complexity in patients with systemic inflammation during a suspected ICU-acquired infection, by using wavelets transformation and multiscale entropy of temperature signals, in a cohort of mixed critically ill patients.
Twenty-two patients were enrolled in the study. In five, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS, group 1) developed, 10 had sepsis (group 2), and seven had septic shock (group 3). All temperature curves were studied during the first 24 hours of an inflammatory state. A wavelet transformation was applied, decomposing the signal in different frequency components (scales) that have been found to reflect neurogenic and metabolic inputs on temperature oscillations. Wavelet energy and entropy per different scales associated with complexity in specific frequency bands and multiscale entropy of the whole signal were calculated. Moreover, a clustering technique and a linear discriminant analysis (LDA) were applied for permitting pattern recognition in data sets and assessing diagnostic accuracy of different wavelet features among the three classes of patients.
Statistically significant differences were found in wavelet entropy between patients with SIRS and groups 2 and 3, and in specific ultradian bands between SIRS and group 3, with decreased entropy in sepsis. Cluster analysis using wavelet features in specific bands revealed concrete clusters closely related with the groups in focus. LDA after wrapper-based feature selection was able to classify with an accuracy of more than 80% SIRS from the two sepsis groups, based on multiparametric patterns of entropy values in the very low frequencies and indicating reduced metabolic inputs on local thermoregulation, probably associated with extensive vasodilatation.
We suggest that complexity analysis of temperature signals can assess inherent thermoregulatory dynamics during systemic inflammation and has increased discriminating value in patients with infectious versus noninfectious conditions, probably associated with severity of illness.