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1.  Nontraumatic spinal cord injury at the neurological intensive care unit: spectrum, causes of admission and predictors of mortality 
Nontraumatic spinal cord injuries (NTSCIs) form a heterogeneous group of diseases, which may evolve into a life-threatening condition. We sought to characterize spectrum, causes of admission and predictors of death in patients with NTSCI treated at the neurological intensive care unit (NICU).
We performed a retrospective observational analysis of NTSCI cases treated at a tertiary care center between 2001 and 2013. Among the 3937 NICU admissions were 93 patients with NTSCI (2.4%). Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, we examined predictors of mortality including demographics, etiology, reasons for admission and GCS/SAPS (Glasgow Coma Scale/Simplified Acute Physiology Score) scores.
Infectious and inflammatory/autoimmune causes made up 50% of the NTSCI cases. The most common reasons for NICU admission were rapidly progressing paresis (49.5%) and abundance of respiratory insufficiency (26.9%). The mortality rate was 22.6% and 2.5-fold higher than in the cohort of all other patients treated at the NICU. Respiratory insufficiency as the reason for NICU admission [odds ratio (OR) 4.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.38–17.9; p < 0.01], high initial SAPS scores (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.003–1.08; p = 0.04), and the development of acute kidney injury throughout the stay (OR 7.25, 1.9–27.5; p = 0.004) were independent risk factors for NICU death.
Patients with NTSCI account for a subset of patients admitted to the NICU and are at risk for adverse outcome. A better understanding of predisposing conditions and further knowledge of management of critically ill patients with NTSCI is mandatory.
PMCID: PMC4784250  PMID: 27006696
intensive care; mortality; nontraumatic spinal cord injury; treatment
2.  European trauma guideline compliance assessment: the ETRAUSS study 
Critical Care  2015;19:423.
Haemorrhagic shock is the leading cause of preventable death in trauma patients. The 2013 European trauma guidelines emphasise a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, protocol-based approach to trauma care. The aim of the present Europe-wide survey was to compare 2015 practice with the 2013 guidelines.
A group of members of the Trauma and Emergency Medicine section of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine developed a 50-item questionnaire based upon the core recommendations of the 2013 guidelines, employing a multistep approach. The questionnaire covered five fields: care structure and organisation, haemodynamic resuscitation targets, fluid management, transfusion and coagulopathy, and haemorrhage control. The sampling used a two-step approach comprising initial purposive sampling of eminent trauma care providers in each European country, followed by snowball sampling of a maximum number of trauma care providers.
A total of 296 responses were collected, 243 (81 %) from European countries. Those from outside the European Union were excluded from the analysis. Approximately three-fourths (74 %) of responders were working in a designated trauma centre. Blunt trauma predominated, accounting for more than 90 % of trauma cases. Considerable heterogeneity was observed in all five core aspects of trauma care, along with frequent deviations from the 2013 guidelines. Only 92 (38 %) of responders claimed to comply with the recommended systolic blood pressure target, and only 81 (33 %) responded that they complied with the target pressure in patients with traumatic brain injury. Crystalloid use was predominant (n = 209; 86 %), and vasopressor use was frequent (n = 171, 76 %) but remained controversial. Only 160 respondents (66 %) declared that they used tranexamic acid always or often.
This is the first European trauma survey, to our knowledge. Heterogeneity is significant across centres with regard to the clinical protocols for trauma patients and as to locally available resources. Deviations from guidelines are frequent, differ from region to region and are dependent upon specialty training. Further efforts are required to provide consensus guidelines and to improve their implementation across European countries.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-015-1092-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4672560  PMID: 26643471
3.  Influence of in-line microfilters on systemic inflammation in adult critically ill patients: a prospective, randomized, controlled open-label trial 
In critically ill children, in-line microfilters may reduce the incidence of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), the overall complication and organ dysfunction rate. No data on the use of in-line microfilters exist in critically ill adults.
In this prospective, randomized, controlled open-label study, we evaluated the influence of in-line microfilters on systemic immune activation in 504 critically ill adults with a central venous catheter in place and an expected length of stay in the intensive care unit >24 h. Patients were randomized to have in-line microfilters placed into all intravenous lines (intervention group) or usual care (control group). The primary endpoint was the number of intensive care unit days with SIRS. Secondary endpoints were the incidence of SIRS, SIRS criteria per day, duration of invasive mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit length of stay, the incidence of acute lung injury, maximum C-reactive protein, maximum white blood cell count, incidence of new candida and/or central-line-associated bloodstream infections, incidence of new thromboembolic complications, cumulative insulin requirements and presence of hyper- or hypoglycemia.
The study groups did not differ in any baseline variable. There was no difference in the number of days in the intensive care unit with SIRS between microfilter and control patients [2 (0.8–4.7) vs. 1.8 (0.7–4.4), p = 0.62]. Except for a higher incidence of SIRS in microfilter patients (99.6 vs. 96.8 %, p = 0.04), no difference between the groups was observed in any secondary outcome parameter. Results did not change when only patients with an intensive care unit length of stay of greater than 7 days were included in the analysis. The rate of adverse events was comparable between microfilter and control patients. In two patients allocated to the microfilter group, the study intervention was discontinued for technical reasons. Use of in-line microfilters was associated with additional costs.
The use of in-line microfilters failed to modulate systemic inflammation and clinical outcome parameters in critically ill adults.
Trial registration: Clinical Trials NCT01534390
PMCID: PMC4633471  PMID: 26538309
In-line microfilter; Adults; Critically ill; Systemic inflammation; C-Reactive protein
4.  Prolonged Bilateral Reactive Miosis as a Symptom of Severe Insulin Intoxication 
Patient: Female, 64
Final Diagnosis: Insulin self poisoning
Symptoms: Coma
Medication: —
Clinical Procedure: Supportive care
Specialty: Critical Care Medicine
Unusual clinical course
Miosis occurs following exposure to toxins that decrease the sympathomimetic tone, increase the cholinergic tone, or exert sedative-hypnotic effects, but has not been reported in insulin poisoning.
Case Report:
A 64-year- old woman without co-morbidities was found unconscious next to an empty insulin pen. Her Glasgow Coma Scale was 3 with absent reflexes, bilateral reactive miosis, and injection marks across the abdominal wall. The patient was endotracheally intubated, mechanically ventilated, and transferred to this hospital. At admission, the blood glucose level was 34 mg/dL. Glasgow Coma Scale remained at 3, with persistent bilateral reactive miosis. The toxicology screening was negative for ethanol, barbiturates, tricyclic antidepressants, phenothiazines, amphetamines, cannabinoids, salicylates, acetaminophen, and cocaine. Cranial computed tomography with angiography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) did not show any structural brain lesions. Intravenous glucose was continued at 6–14 g/h for 3 days. On repeated neurological examinations, the patient remained deeply comatose, with partial loss of cranial nerve function. Bilateral reactive miosis persisted for 4 days. From day 5 on, the patient awoke progressively. At discharge, the patient was fully alert and orientated, without a focal neurological deficit.
Prolonged bilateral reactive miosis can be a clinical symptom accompanying metabolic encephalopathy in severe insulin poisoning. Functional impairment of the pons due to relative hypoperfusion during hypoglycemia may serve as a reasonable pathophysiologic explanation for this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC4284992  PMID: 25556593
Brain Diseases, Metabolic; Hypoglycemia; Insulin Coma; Miosis
5.  The arterial blood pressure associated with terminal cardiovascular collapse in critically ill patients: a retrospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):719.
Liberal and overaggressive use of vasopressors during the initial period of shock resuscitation may compromise organ perfusion and worsen outcome. When transiently applying the concept of permissive hypotension, it would be helpful to know at which arterial blood pressure terminal cardiovascular collapse occurs.
In this retrospective cohort study, we aimed to identify the arterial blood pressure associated with terminal cardiovascular collapse in 140 patients who died in the intensive care unit while being invasively monitored. Demographic data, co-morbid conditions and clinical data at admission and during the 24 hours before and at the time of terminal cardiovascular collapse were collected. The systolic, mean and diastolic arterial blood pressures immediately before terminal cardiovascular collapse were documented. Terminal cardiovascular collapse was defined as an abrupt (<5 minutes) and exponential decrease in heart rate (>50% compared to preceding values) followed by cardiac arrest.
The mean ± standard deviation (SD) values of the systolic, mean and diastolic arterial blood pressures associated with terminal cardiovascular collapse were 47 ± 12 mmHg, 35 ± 11 mmHg and 29 ± 9 mmHg, respectively. Patients with congestive heart failure (39 ± 13 mmHg versus 34 ± 10 mmHg; P = 0.04), left main stem stenosis (39 ± 11 mmHg versus 34 ± 11 mmHg; P = 0.03) or acute right heart failure (39 ± 13 mmHg versus 34 ± 10 mmHg; P = 0.03) had higher arterial blood pressures than patients without these risk factors. Patients with severe valvular aortic stenosis had the highest arterial blood pressures associated with terminal cardiovascular collapse (systolic, 60 ± 20 mmHg; mean, 46 ± 12 mmHg; diastolic, 36 ± 10 mmHg), but this difference was not significant. Patients with sepsis and patients exposed to sedatives or opioids during the terminal phase exhibited lower arterial blood pressures than patients without sepsis or administration of such drugs.
The arterial blood pressure associated with terminal cardiovascular collapse in critically ill patients was very low and varied with individual co-morbid conditions (for example, congestive heart failure, left main stem stenosis, severe valvular aortic stenosis, acute right heart failure), drug exposure (for example, sedatives or opioids) and the type of acute illness (for example, sepsis).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0719-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4299308  PMID: 25524592
6.  On sepsis, troponin and vasopressin: the bitter truth 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):1002.
One of the rationales for the use of vasopressin in septic shock has been its potential cardioprotective mechanisms. Lower heart rates, higher arterial pressures, and fewer norepinephrine doses during vasopressin therapy were hypothesized to protect the heart from myocardial ischemia. In a prospective sub-study of the VASST (Vasopressin in Septic Shock Trial) project, Mehta and colleagues specifically evaluated this hypothesis but failed to find lower cardiac biomarkers or fewer ischemic electrocardiogram changes in patients receiving vasopressin compared with subjects receiving norepinephrine alone. After recent evidence of a lacking survival benefit, the present study results further challenge the future role of vasopressin as a vasopressor in septic shock.
PMCID: PMC4056642  PMID: 24099434
7.  Re-thinking resuscitation: leaving blood pressure cosmetics behind and moving forward to permissive hypotension and a tissue perfusion-based approach 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):326.
Definitions of shock and resuscitation endpoints traditionally focus on blood pressures and cardiac output. This carries a high risk of overemphasizing systemic hemodynamics at the cost of tissue perfusion. In line with novel shock definitions and evidence of the lack of a correlation between macro- and microcirculation in shock, we recommend that macrocirculatory resuscitation endpoints, particularly arterial and central venous pressure as well as cardiac output, be reconsidered. In this viewpoint article, we propose a three-step approach of resuscitation endpoints in shock of all origins. This approach targets only a minimum individual and context-sensitive mean arterial blood pressure (for example, 45 to 50 mm Hg) to preserve heart and brain perfusion. Further resuscitation is exclusively guided by endpoints of tissue perfusion irrespectively of the presence of arterial hypotension ('permissive hypotension'). Finally, optimization of individual tissue (for example, renal) perfusion is targeted. Prospective clinical studies are necessary to confirm the postulated benefits of targeting these resuscitation endpoints.
PMCID: PMC4056569  PMID: 24103466
8.  Fulminant systemic capillary leak syndrome due to C1 inhibitor deficiency complicating acute dermatomyositis: a case report 
Dermatomyositis is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by muscular and dermatologic symptoms with variable internal organ involvement. This is the first report on a patient with acute dermatomyositis and fulminant systemic capillary leak syndrome.
Case presentation
A 69-year-old Caucasian woman with chronic dermatomyositis presented with clinical signs of severe hypovolemic shock and pronounced hemoconcentration (hematocrit, 69%). Her colloid osmotic pressure was 4.6mmHg. Following a bolus dose of prednisolone (500mg), fluid resuscitation was initiated. During volume loading, anasarca and acute respiratory distress rapidly developed. Echocardiography revealed an underfilled, hypokinetic, diastolic dysfunctional left ventricle with pericardial effusion but no signs of tamponade. Despite continued fluid resuscitation and high-dosed catecholamine therapy, the patient died from refractory shock 12 hours after intensive care unit admission. A laboratory analysis of her complement system suggested the presence of C1 inhibitor deficiency as the cause for systemic capillary leakage. The post-mortem examination revealed bilateral pleural, pericardial and peritoneal effusions as well as left ventricular hypertrophy with patchy myocardial fibrosis. Different patterns of endomysial/perimysial lymphocytic infiltrations adjacent to degenerated cardiomyocytes in her myocardium and necrotic muscle fibers in her right psoas major muscle were found in the histological examination.
This case report indicates that acute exacerbation of chronic dermatomyositis can result in a fulminant systemic capillary leak syndrome with intense hemoconcentration, hypovolemic shock and acute heart failure. In the presented patient, the cause for diffuse capillary leakage was most probably acquired angioedema, a condition that has been associated with both lymphoproliferative and autoimmunologic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3917414  PMID: 24467750
Acute heart failure; Angioedema; C1 inhibitor deficiency; Dermatomyositis; Shock; Systemic capillary leak
9.  National intensive care unit bed capacity and ICU patient characteristics in a low income country 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:475.
Primary health care delivery in the developing world faces many challenges. Priority setting favours HIV, TB and malaria interventions. Little is known about the challenges faced in this setting with regard to critical care medicine. The aim of this study was to analyse and categorise the diagnosis and outcomes of 1,774 patients admitted to a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) in a low-income country over a 7-year period. We also assessed the country’s ICU bed capacity and described the challenges faced in dealing with critically ill patients in this setting.
A retrospective audit was conducted in a general ICU in a university hospital in Uganda. Demographic data, admission diagnosis, and ICU length of stay were recorded for the 1,774 patients who presented to the ICU in the period January 2003 to December 2009. Their mean age was 35.5 years. Males accounted for 56.5% of the study population; 92.8% were indigenous, and 42.9% were referrals from upcountry units. The average mortality rate over the study period was 40.1% (n = 715). The highest mortality rate (44%) was recorded in 2004 and the lowest (33.2%) in 2005. Children accounted for 11.6% of admissions (40.1% mortality). Sepsis, ARDS, traumatic brain injuries and HIV related conditions were the most frequent admission diagnoses. A telephonic survey determined that there are 33 adult ICU beds in the whole country.
Mortality was 40.1%, with sepsis, head injury, acute lung injury and HIV/AIDS the most common admission diagnoses. The country has a very low ICU bed capacity. Prioritising infectious diseases poses a challenge to ensuring that critical care is an essential part of the health care package in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC3470976  PMID: 22937769
Intensive care medicine; Diagnosis; Uganda; Low-income country; Mortality
11.  Recommendations for sepsis management in resource-limited settings 
Intensive Care Medicine  2012;38(4):557-574.
To provide clinicians practicing in resource-limited settings with a framework to improve the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric and adult patients with sepsis.
The medical literature on sepsis management was reviewed. Specific attention was paid to identify clinical evidence on sepsis management from resource-limited settings.
Recommendations are grouped into acute and post-acute interventions. Acute interventions include liberal fluid resuscitation to achieve adequate tissue perfusion, normal heart rate and arterial blood pressure, use of epinephrine or dopamine for inadequate tissue perfusion despite fluid resuscitation, frequent measurement of arterial blood pressure in hemodynamically unstable patients, administration of hydrocortisone or prednisolone to patients requiring catecholamines, oxygen administration to achieve an oxygen saturation >90%, semi-recumbent and/or lateral position, non-invasive ventilation for increased work of breathing or hypoxemia despite oxygen therapy, timely administration of adequate antimicrobials, thorough clinical investigation for infectious source identification, fluid/tissue sampling and microbiological work-up, removal, drainage or debridement of the infectious source. Post-acute interventions include regular re-assessment of antimicrobial therapy, administration of antimicrobials for an adequate but not prolonged duration, avoidance of hypoglycemia, pharmacological or mechanical deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, resumption of oral food intake after resuscitation and regaining of consciousness, careful use of opioids and sedatives, early mobilization, and active weaning of invasive support. Specific considerations for malaria, puerperal sepsis and HIV/AIDS patients with sepsis are included.
Only scarce evidence exists for the management of pediatric and adult sepsis in resource-limited settings. The presented recommendations may help to improve sepsis management in middle- and low-income countries.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-012-2468-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3307996  PMID: 22349419
Sepsis; Intensive care; Resource-limited settings; Middle-income countries; Low-income countries; Recommendations; Management
12.  Facing medical care problems of victims of sexual violence in Goma/Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo 
Since 1998, the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has been torn by a military conflict. A particular atrocity of the war is widespread sexual violence.
In this combined retrospective analysis and prospective survey, we sought to identify hospital facilities and resources available to treat victims of sexual violence in Goma, the capital city of the North Kivu province.
Of twenty-three acute care hospitals registered in the area of Goma, four (17%) regularly cared for victims of sexual violence. One hospital had all resources always available to appropriately care for victims of sexual violence. From Jan 2009 until Oct 2010, 7,048 females sought medical care because of physical or psychological sequelae from sexual violence in the four hospitals of Goma. Only half of the hospitals had physicians specialized in gynaecology or gynaecological surgery available. Similarly, anaesthetists and psychiatrists/psychologists were available in two (50%) and one (25%) hospital, respectively. Post-discharge care facilities, material resources, such as surgical and anaesthesiological equipment and drugs, were inconsistently available in the hospitals caring for sexually abused females. At one selected hospital, acyclovir and/or antibiotics were administered to 1,202 sexually abused females (89.5%), whereas post-exposure HIV prophylaxis and surgery because of vesico-vaginal fistula was provided to only 75 (5.6%) and 121 (9%) patients, respectively.
This study provides data that only few hospitals in Goma care for victims of sexual violence. In addition, these hospitals suffer from a relevant shortage of human and material resources to provide adequate care for sexually abused females. Aside from establishment of adequate protection strategies, steps must be taken to increase the availability of trained health care professionals and resources to provide adequate care for victims of sexual violence in Goma and the North Kivu province.
PMCID: PMC3059296  PMID: 21375778
13.  Availability of critical care resources to treat patients with severe sepsis or septic shock in Africa: a self-reported, continent-wide survey of anaesthesia providers 
Critical Care  2011;15(1):R10.
It is unknown whether resources necessary to implement the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines and sepsis bundles are available in Africa. This self-reported, continent-wide survey compared the availability of these resources between African and high-income countries, and between two African regions (Sub-Sahara Africa vs. South Africa, Mauritius and the Northern African countries).
The study was conducted as an anonymous questionnaire-based, cross-sectional survey among anaesthesia providers attending a transcontinental congress. Based on the respondents' country of practice, returned questionnaires were grouped into African and high-income countries. The questionnaire contained 74 items and evaluated all material resources required to implement the most recent Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines. Group comparisons were performed with the Chi2, Fisher's Exact or Mann Whitney U test, as appropriate.
The overall response rate was 74.3% (318/428). Three-hundred-seven questionnaires were analysed (African countries, n = 263; high-income countries, n = 44). Respondents from African hospitals were less likely to have an emergency room (85.5 vs. 97.7%, P = 0.03) or intensive care unit (73.8 vs. 100%, P < 0.001) than respondents from high-income countries. Drugs, equipment, and disposable materials required to implement the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines or sepsis bundles were less frequently available in African than high-income countries. Of all African and Sub-Saharan African countries, 1.5% (4/263) and 1.2% (3/248) of respondents had the resources available to implement the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines in entirety. The percentage of implementable recommendations was lower in African than in high-income countries (72.6 (57.7 to 87.7)% vs. 100 (100 to 100)%, P < 0.001) and lower in Sub-Saharan African countries than South Africa, Mauritius, and the Northern African countries (72.6 (56.2 to 86.3)% vs. 90.4 (71.2 to 94.5)%, P = 0.02).
The results of this self-reported survey strongly suggest that the most recent Surviving Sepsis guidelines cannot be implemented in Africa, particularly not in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to a shortage of required hospital facilities, equipment, drugs and disposable materials. However, availability of resources to implement the majority of strong Surviving Sepsis Campaign recommendations and the sepsis bundles may allow modification of current sepsis guidelines based on available resources and implementation of a substantial number of life-saving interventions into sepsis care in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3222039  PMID: 21219619
14.  Role of selective V2-receptor-antagonism in septic shock: a randomized, controlled, experimental study 
Critical Care  2010;14(6):R200.
V2-receptor (V2R) stimulation potentially aggravates sepsis-induced vasodilation, fluid accumulation and microvascular thrombosis. Therefore, the present study was performed to determine the effects of a first-line therapy with the selective V2R-antagonist (Propionyl1-D-Tyr(Et)2-Val4-Abu6-Arg8,9)-Vasopressin on cardiopulmonary hemodynamics and organ function vs. the mixed V1aR/V2R-agonist arginine vasopressin (AVP) or placebo in an established ovine model of septic shock.
After the onset of septic shock, chronically instrumented sheep were randomly assigned to receive first-line treatment with the selective V2R-antagonist (1 μg/kg per hour), AVP (0.05 μg/kg per hour), or normal saline (placebo, each n = 7). In all groups, open-label norepinephrine was additionally titrated up to 1 μg/kg per minute to maintain mean arterial pressure at 70 ± 5 mmHg, if necessary.
Compared to AVP- and placebo-treated animals, the selective V2R-antagonist stabilized cardiopulmonary hemodynamics (mean arterial and pulmonary artery pressure, cardiac index) as effectively and increased intravascular volume as suggested by higher cardiac filling pressures. Furthermore, left ventricular stroke work index was higher in the V2R-antagonist group than in the AVP group. Notably, metabolic (pH, base excess, lactate concentrations), liver (transaminases, bilirubin) and renal (creatinine and blood urea nitrogen plasma levels, urinary output, creatinine clearance) dysfunctions were attenuated by the V2R-antagonist when compared with AVP and placebo. The onset of septic shock was associated with an increase in AVP plasma levels as compared to baseline in all groups. Whereas AVP plasma levels remained constant in the placebo group, infusion of AVP increased AVP plasma levels up to 149 ± 21 pg/mL. Notably, treatment with the selective V2R-antagonist led to a significant decrease of AVP plasma levels as compared to shock time (P < 0.001) and to both other groups (P < 0.05 vs. placebo; P < 0.001 vs. AVP). Immunohistochemical analyses of lung tissue revealed higher hemeoxygenase-1 (vs. placebo) and lower 3-nitrotyrosine concentrations (vs. AVP) in the V2R-antagonist group. In addition, the selective V2R-antagonist slightly prolonged survival (14 ± 1 hour) when compared to AVP (11 ± 1 hour, P = 0.007) and placebo (11 ± 1 hour, P = 0.025).
Selective V2R-antagonism may represent an innovative therapeutic approach to attenuate multiple organ dysfunction in early septic shock.
PMCID: PMC3220000  PMID: 21054850
15.  Brain herniation in a patient with apparently normal intracranial pressure: a case report 
Intracranial pressure monitoring is commonly implemented in patients with neurologic injury and at high risk of developing intracranial hypertension, to detect changes in intracranial pressure in a timely manner. This enables early and potentially life-saving treatment of intracranial hypertension.
Case presentation
An intraparenchymal pressure probe was placed in the hemisphere contralateral to a large basal ganglia hemorrhage in a 75-year-old Caucasian man who was mechanically ventilated and sedated because of depressed consciousness. Intracranial pressures were continuously recorded and never exceeded 17 mmHg. After sedation had been stopped, our patient showed clinical signs of transtentorial brain herniation, despite apparently normal intracranial pressures (less than 10 mmHg). Computed tomography revealed that the size of the intracerebral hematoma had increased together with significant unilateral brain edema and transtentorial herniation. The contralateral hemisphere where the intraparenchymal pressure probe was placed appeared normal. Our patient underwent emergency decompressive craniotomy and was tracheotomized early, but did not completely recover.
Intraparenchymal pressure probes placed in the hemisphere contralateral to an intracerebral hematoma may dramatically underestimate intracranial pressure despite apparently normal values, even in the case of transtentorial brain herniation.
PMCID: PMC2936928  PMID: 20807427
16.  Association of arterial blood pressure and vasopressor load with septic shock mortality: a post hoc analysis of a multicenter trial 
Critical Care  2009;13(6):R181.
It is unclear to which level mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) should be increased during septic shock in order to improve outcome. In this study we investigated the association between MAP values of 70 mmHg or higher, vasopressor load, 28-day mortality and disease-related events in septic shock.
This is a post hoc analysis of data of the control group of a multicenter trial and includes 290 septic shock patients in whom a mean MAP ≥ 70 mmHg could be maintained during shock. Demographic and clinical data, MAP, vasopressor requirements during the shock period, disease-related events and 28-day mortality were documented. Logistic regression models adjusted for the geographic region of the study center, age, presence of chronic arterial hypertension, simplified acute physiology score (SAPS) II and the mean vasopressor load during the shock period was calculated to investigate the association between MAP or MAP quartiles ≥ 70 mmHg and mortality or the frequency and occurrence of disease-related events.
There was no association between MAP or MAP quartiles and mortality or the occurrence of disease-related events. These associations were not influenced by age or pre-existent arterial hypertension (all P > 0.05). The mean vasopressor load was associated with mortality (relative risk (RR), 1.83; confidence interval (CI) 95%, 1.4-2.38; P < 0.001), the number of disease-related events (P < 0.001) and the occurrence of acute circulatory failure (RR, 1.64; CI 95%, 1.28-2.11; P < 0.001), metabolic acidosis (RR, 1.79; CI 95%, 1.38-2.32; P < 0.001), renal failure (RR, 1.49; CI 95%, 1.17-1.89; P = 0.001) and thrombocytopenia (RR, 1.33; CI 95%, 1.06-1.68; P = 0.01).
MAP levels of 70 mmHg or higher do not appear to be associated with improved survival in septic shock. Elevating MAP >70 mmHg by augmenting vasopressor dosages may increase mortality. Future trials are needed to identify the lowest acceptable MAP level to ensure tissue perfusion and avoid unnecessary high catecholamine infusions.
PMCID: PMC2811945  PMID: 19917106
17.  Hemodynamic variables and mortality in cardiogenic shock: a retrospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2009;13(5):R157.
Despite the key role of hemodynamic goals, there are few data addressing the question as to which hemodynamic variables are associated with outcome or should be targeted in cardiogenic shock patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between hemodynamic variables and cardiogenic shock mortality.
Medical records and the patient data management system of a multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) were reviewed for patients admitted because of cardiogenic shock. In all patients, the hourly variable time integral of hemodynamic variables during the first 24 hours after ICU admission was calculated. If hemodynamic variables were associated with 28-day mortality, the hourly variable time integral of drops below clinically relevant threshold levels was computed. Regression models and receiver operator characteristic analyses were calculated. All statistical models were adjusted for age, admission year, mean catecholamine doses and the Simplified Acute Physiology Score II (excluding hemodynamic counts) in order to account for the influence of age, changes in therapies during the observation period, the severity of cardiovascular failure and the severity of the underlying disease on 28-day mortality.
One-hundred and nineteen patients were included. Cardiac index (CI) (P = 0.01) and cardiac power index (CPI) (P = 0.03) were the only hemodynamic variables separately associated with mortality. The hourly time integral of CI drops <3, 2.75 (both P = 0.02) and 2.5 (P = 0.03) L/min/m2 was associated with death but not that of CI drops <2 L/min/m2 or lower thresholds (all P > 0.05). The hourly time integral of CPI drops <0.5-0.8 W/m2 (all P = 0.04) was associated with 28-day mortality but not that of CPI drops <0.4 W/m2 or lower thresholds (all P > 0.05).
During the first 24 hours after intensive care unit admission, CI and CPI are the most important hemodynamic variables separately associated with 28-day mortality in patients with cardiogenic shock. A CI of 3 L/min/m2 and a CPI of 0.8 W/m2 were most predictive of 28-day mortality. Since our results must be considered hypothesis-generating, randomized controlled trials are required to evaluate whether targeting these levels as early resuscitation endpoints can improve mortality in cardiogenic shock.
PMCID: PMC2784383  PMID: 19799772
18.  Report from Mongolia – How much do we know about the incidence of rare cases in less developed countries: a case series 
Case reports are important instruments to describe rare disease conditions and give a rough estimation of their global incidence. Even though collected in international databases, most case reports are published by clinicians from industrialized nations and little is known about the incidence of rare cases in less developed countries, which are home to 75% of the world's population.
Case presentation
We present seven patients who suffered from diseases which are either considered to be rare or have not yet been described before according to international databases, but occurred during a 5-month period in one intensive care unit of a less developed country. During the observation period, patients with a spontaneous infratentorial subdural hematoma (Asian, female, 41 years), general exanthema and acute renal failure after diesel ingestion (Asian, male, 30 years), transient cortical blindness complicating hepatic encephalopathy (Asian, female, 49 years), Fournier gangrene complicating acute necrotizing pancreatitis (Asian, male, 37 years), acute renal failure due to acetic acid intoxication (Asian, male, 42 years), haemolytic uremic syndrome following septic abortion (Asian, female, 45 years), and a metal needle as an unusual cause of chest pain (Asian, male, 41 years) were treated. According to the current literature, all seven disease conditions are considered either rare or have so far not yet been reported.
The global incidence of rare cases may be underestimated by contemporary international databases. Diseases which are currently considered to be rare in industrialized nations may occur at a higher frequency in less developed countries. Reasons may not only be a geographically different burden of certain diseases, limited diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, but also a relevant publication bias.
PMCID: PMC2605759  PMID: 19032758
19.  Combined milrinone and enteral metoprolol therapy in patients with septic myocardial depression 
Critical Care  2008;12(4):R99.
The multifactorial etiology of septic cardiomyopathy is not fully elucidated. Recently, high catecholamine levels have been suggested to contribute to impaired myocardial function.
This retrospective analysis summarizes our preliminary clinical experience with the combined use of milrinone and enteral metoprolol therapy in 40 patients with septic shock and cardiac depression. Patients with other causes of shock or cardiac failure, patients with beta-blocker therapy initiated more than 48 hours after shock onset, and patients with pre-existent decompensated congestive heart failure were excluded. In all study patients, beta blockers were initiated only after stabilization of cardiovascular function (17.7 ± 15.5 hours after shock onset or intensive care unit admission) in order to decrease the heart rate to less than 95 beats per minute (bpm). Hemodynamic data and laboratory parameters were extracted from medical charts and documented before and 6, 12, 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours after the first metoprolol dosage. Adverse cardiovascular events were documented. Descriptive statistical methods and a linear mixed-effects model were used for statistical analysis.
Heart rate control (65 to 95 bpm) was achieved in 97.5% of patients (n = 39) within 12.2 ± 12.4 hours. Heart rate, central venous pressure, and norepinephrine, arginine vasopressin, and milrinone dosages decreased (all P < 0.001). Cardiac index and cardiac power index remained unchanged whereas stroke volume index increased (P = 0.002). In two patients (5%), metoprolol was discontinued because of asymptomatic bradycardia. Norepinephrine and milrinone dosages were increased in nine (22.5%) and six (15%) patients, respectively. pH increased (P < 0.001) whereas arterial lactate (P < 0.001), serum C-reactive protein (P = 0.001), and creatinine (P = 0.02) levels decreased during the observation period. Twenty-eight-day mortality was 33%.
Low doses of enteral metoprolol in combination with phosphodiesterase inhibitors are feasible in patients with septic shock and cardiac depression but no overt heart failure. Future prospective controlled trials on the use of beta blockers for septic cardiomyopathy and their influence on proinflammatory cytokines are warranted.
PMCID: PMC2575588  PMID: 18680591
20.  Vasopressor stays vasopressor and inotrope stays inotrope! 
Critical Care  2008;12(2):415.
PMCID: PMC2447587  PMID: 18423070
21.  Vasopressin in vasodilatory shock: ensure organ blood flow, but take care of the heart! 
Critical Care  2006;10(6):172.
Supplementary arginine vasopressin infusion in advanced vasodilatory shock may be accompanied by a decrease in cardiac index and systemic oxygen transport capacity in approximately 40% of patients. While a reduction of cardiac output most frequently occurs in patients with hyperdynamic circulation, it is less often observed in patients with low cardiac index. Infusion of inotropes, such as dobutamine, may be an effective strategy to restore systemic blood flow. However, when administering inotropic drugs, systemic blood flow should be increased to adequately meet systemic demands (assessed by central or mixed venous oxygen saturation) without putting an excessive beta-adrenergic stress on the heart. Overcorrection of cardiac index to hyperdynamic values with inotropes places myocardial oxygen supply at significant risk.
PMCID: PMC1794457  PMID: 17129364
22.  Causes of death and determinants of outcome in critically ill patients 
Critical Care  2006;10(6):R154.
Whereas most studies focus on laboratory and clinical research, little is known about the causes of death and risk factors for death in critically ill patients.
Three thousand seven hundred patients admitted to an adult intensive care unit (ICU) were prospectively evaluated. Study endpoints were to evaluate causes of death and risk factors for death in the ICU, in the hospital after discharge from ICU, and within one year after ICU admission. Causes of death in the ICU were defined according to standard ICU practice, whereas deaths in the hospital and at one year were defined and grouped according to the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) score. Stepwise logistic regression analyses were separately calculated to identify independent risk factors for death during the given time periods.
Acute, refractory multiple organ dysfunction syndrome was the most frequent cause of death in the ICU (47%), and central nervous system failure (relative risk [RR] 16.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] 8.3 to 31.4, p < 0.001) and cardiovascular failure (RR 11.83, 95% CI 5.2 to 27.1, p < 0.001) were the two most important risk factors for death in the ICU. Malignant tumour disease and exacerbation of chronic cardiovascular disease were the most frequent causes of death in the hospital (31.3% and 19.4%, respectively) and at one year (33.2% and 16.1%, respectively).
In this primarily surgical critically ill patient population, acute or chronic multiple organ dysfunction syndrome prevailed over single-organ failure or unexpected cardiac arrest as a cause of death in the ICU. Malignant tumour disease and chronic cardiovascular disease were the most important causes of death after ICU discharge.
PMCID: PMC1794454  PMID: 17083735
23.  Arteriolar vasoconstrictive response: comparing the effects of arginine vasopressin and norepinephrine 
Critical Care  2006;10(3):R75.
This study was designed to examine differences in the arteriolar vasoconstrictive response between arginine vasopressin (AVP) and norepinephrine (NE) on the microcirculatory level in the hamster window chamber model in unanesthetized, normotonic hamsters using intravital microscopy. It is known from patients with advanced vasodilatory shock that AVP exerts strong additional vasoconstriction when incremental dosage increases of NE have no further effect on mean arterial blood pressure (MAP).
In a prospective controlled experimental study, eleven awake, male golden Syrian hamsters were instrumented with a viewing window inserted into the dorsal skinfold. NE (2 μg/kg/minute) and AVP (0.0001 IU/kg/minute, equivalent to 4 IU/h in a 70 kg patient) were continuously infused to achieve a similar increase in MAP. According to their position within the arteriolar network, arterioles were grouped into five types: A0 (branch off small artery) to A4 (branch off A3 arteriole).
Reduction of arteriolar diameter (NE, -31 ± 12% versus AVP, -49 ± 7%; p = 0.002), cross sectional area (NE, -49 ± 17% versus AVP, -73 ± 7%; p = 0.002), and arteriolar blood flow (NE, -62 ± 13% versus AVP, -80 ± 6%; p = 0.004) in A0 arterioles was significantly more pronounced in AVP animals. There was no difference in red blood cell velocities in A0 arterioles between groups. The reduction of diameter, cross sectional area, red blood cell velocity, and arteriolar blood flow in A1 to A4 arterioles was comparable in AVP and NE animals.
Within the microvascular network, AVP exerted significantly stronger vasoconstriction on large A0 arterioles than NE under physiological conditions. This observation may partly explain why AVP is such a potent vasopressor hormone and can increase systemic vascular resistance even in advanced vasodilatory shock unresponsive to increases in standard catecholamine therapy.
PMCID: PMC1550934  PMID: 16696866
24.  Cutaneous vascular reactivity and flow motion response to vasopressin in advanced vasodilatory shock and severe postoperative multiple organ dysfunction syndrome 
Critical Care  2006;10(2):R40.
Disturbances in microcirculatory homeostasis have been hypothesized to play a key role in the pathophysiology of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and vasopressor-associated ischemic skin lesions. The effects of a supplementary arginine vasopressin (AVP) infusion on microcirculation in vasodilatory shock and postoperative multiple organ dysfunction syndrome are unknown.
Included in the study were 18 patients who had undergone cardiac or major surgery and had a mean arterial blood pressure below 65 mmHg, despite infusion of more than 0.5 μg/kg per min norepinephrine. Patients were randomly assigned to receive a combined infusion of AVP/norepinephrine or norepinephrine alone. Demographic and clinical data were recorded at study entry and after 1 hour. A laser Doppler flowmeter was used to measure the cutaneous microcirculatory response at randomization and after 1 hour. Reactive hyperaemia and oscillatory changes in the Doppler signal were measured during the 3 minutes before and after a 5-minute period of forearm ischaemia.
Patients receiving AVP/norepinephrine had a significantly higher mean arterial pressure (P = 0.047) and higher milrinone requirements (P = 0.025) than did the patients who received norepinephrine only at baseline. Mean arterial blood pressure significantly increased (P < 0.001) and norepinephrine requirements significantly decreased (P < 0.001) in the AVP/norepinephrine group. Patients in the AVP/norepinephrine group exhibited a significantly higher oscillation frequency of the Doppler signal before ischaemia and during reperfusion at randomization. During the study period, there were no differences in either cutaneous reactive hyperaemia or the oscillatory pattern of vascular tone between groups.
Supplementary AVP infusion in patients with advanced vasodilatory shock and severe postoperative multiple organ dysfunction syndrome did not compromise cutaneous reactive hyperaemia and flowmotion when compared with norepinephrine infusion alone.
PMCID: PMC1550871  PMID: 16542484
25.  Antifactor Xa activity in critically ill patients receiving antithrombotic prophylaxis with standard dosages of certoparin: a prospective, clinical study 
Critical Care  2005;9(5):R541-R548.
Deep venous thrombosis with subsequent pulmonary embolism or post-thrombotic syndrome is a feared complication in the intensive care unit. Therefore, routine prophylactic anticoagulation is widely recommended. Aside from unfractionated heparin, low molecular weight heparins, such as certoparin, have become increasingly used for prophylactic anticoagulation in critically ill patients. In this prospective study, we evaluated the potency of 3,000 IU certoparin administered once daily to reach antithrombotic antifactor Xa (aFXa) levels of 0.1 to 0.3 IU/ml in 62 critically ill patients.
AFXa levels were determined 4, 12 and 24 h after injection of certoparin. Prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, antithrombin, fibrinogen, hemoglobin, platelet count, serum urea and creatinine concentrations were documented before and 12 and 24 h after injection of certoparin.
Four hours after certoparin injection (n = 32), 28% of patients were within the antithrombotic aFXa range. After 12 and 24 h, 6% achieved antithrombotic aFXa levels. Because of a severe pulmonary embolism in one study patient, an interim analysis was performed, and the dosage of certoparin was increased to 3,000 IU twice daily. This regime attained recommended antithrombotic aFXa levels in 47%, 27%, 40% and 30% of patients at 4, 12, 16 and 24 h, respectively, after twice daily certoparin injection (n = 30). Antithrombin and fibrinogen concentrations slightly increased during the observation period. Low antithrombin concentrations before certoparin were independently correlated with underdosing of certoparin. Patients with aFXa levels <0.1 IU/ml 4 h after certoparin injection required vasopressors more often and had lower serum concentrations of creatinine and urea than patients with antithrombotic aFXa levels.
Standard dosages of certoparin of 3,000 IU given once or twice daily are ineffective for attaining the recommended aFXa levels of 0.1 to 0.3 IU/ml in critically ill patients. Low antithrombin levels before certoparin administration were independently associated with low aFXa levels. Renal function and vasopressor therapy may further influence the effectiveness of certoparin in ensuring adequate antithrombotic prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC1297619  PMID: 16277716

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