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1.  Mild hypoglycemia is strongly associated with increased intensive care unit length of stay 
Hypoglycemia is associated with increased mortality in critically ill patients. The impact of hypoglycemia on resource utilization has not been investigated. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the association of hypoglycemia, defined as a blood glucose concentration (BG) < 70 mg/dL, and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) in three different cohorts of critically ill patients.
This is a retrospective investigation of prospectively collected data, including patients from two large observational cohorts: 3,263 patients admitted to Stamford Hospital (ST) and 2,063 patients admitted to three institutions in The Netherlands (NL) as well as 914 patients from the GLUCONTROL trial (GL), a multicenter prospective randomized controlled trial of intensive insulin therapy.
Patients with hypoglycemia were more likely to be diabetic, had higher APACHE II scores, and higher mortality than did patients without hypoglycemia. Patients with hypoglycemia had longer ICU LOS (median [interquartile range]) in ST (3.0 [1.4-7.1] vs. 1.2 [0.8-2.3] days, P < 0.0001), NL (5.2 [2.6-10.3] vs. 2.0 [1.3-3.2] days, P < 0.0001), and GL (9 [5-17] vs. 5 [3-9] days, P < 0.0001). For the entire cohort of 6,240 patients ICU LOS was 1.8 (1.0-3.3) days for those without hypoglycemia and 3.0 (1.5-6.7) days for those with a single episode of hypoglycemia (P < 0.0001). This was a consistent finding even when patients were stratified by severity of illness or survivor status. There was a strong positive correlation between the number of episodes of hypoglycemia and ICU LOS among all three cohorts.
This multicenter international investigation demonstrated that hypoglycemia was consistently associated with significantly higher ICU LOS in heterogeneous cohorts of critically ill patients, independently of severity of illness and survivor status. More effective methods to prevent hypoglycemia in these patients may positively impact their cost of care.
PMCID: PMC3273438  PMID: 22115519
hypoglycemia; intensive care unit; length of stay; resource utilization; APACHE II; mortality; intensive insulin therapy
2.  The challenge of admitting the very elderly to intensive care 
The aging of the population has increased the demand for healthcare resources. The number of patients aged 80 years and older admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) increased during the past decade, as has the intensity of care for such patients. Yet, many physicians remain reluctant to admit the oldest, arguing a "squandering" of societal resources, that ICU care could be deleterious, or that ICU care may not actually be what the patient or family wants in this instance. Other ICU physicians are strong advocates for admission of a selected elderly population. These discrepant opinions may partly be explained by the current lack of validated criteria to select accurately the patients (of any age) who will benefit most from ICU hospitalization. This review describes the epidemiology of the elderly aged 80 years and older admitted in the ICU, their long-term outcomes, and to discuss some of the solutions to cope with the burden of an aging population receiving acute care hospitalization.
PMCID: PMC3224497  PMID: 21906383
3.  Intensive care of the cancer patient: recent achievements and remaining challenges 
A few decades have passed since intensive care unit (ICU) beds have been available for critically ill patients with cancer. Although the initial reports showed dismal prognosis, recent data suggest that an increased number of patients with solid and hematological malignancies benefit from intensive care support, with dramatically decreased mortality rates. Advances in the management of the underlying malignancies and support of organ dysfunctions have led to survival gains in patients with life-threatening complications from the malignancy itself, as well as infectious and toxic adverse effects related to the oncological treatments. In this review, we will appraise the prognostic factors and discuss the overall perspective related to the management of critically ill patients with cancer. The prognostic significance of certain factors has changed over time. For example, neutropenia or autologous bone marrow transplantation (BMT) have less adverse prognostic implications than two decades ago. Similarly, because hematologists and oncologists select patients for ICU admission based on the characteristics of the malignancy, the underlying malignancy rarely influences short-term survival after ICU admission. Since the recent data do not clearly support the benefit of ICU support to unselected critically ill allogeneic BMT recipients, more outcome research is needed in this subgroup. Because of the overall increased survival that has been reported in critically ill patients with cancer, we outline an easy-to-use and evidence-based ICU admission triage criteria that may help avoid depriving life support to patients with cancer who can benefit. Lastly, we propose a research agenda to address unanswered questions.
PMCID: PMC3159899  PMID: 21906331
4.  The rising problem of antimicrobial resistance in the intensive care unit 
Mainly due to its extremely vulnerable population of critically ill patients, and the high use of (invasive) procedures, the intensive care unit (ICU) is the epicenter of infections. These infections are associated with an important rise in morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. The additional problem of multidrug-resistant pathogens boosts the adverse impact of infections in ICUs. Several factors influence the rapid spread of multidrug-resistant pathogens in the ICU, e.g., new mutations, selection of resistant strains, and suboptimal infection control. Among gram-positive organisms, the most important resistant microorganisms in the ICU are currently methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. In gram-negative bacteria, the resistance is mainly due to the rapid increase of extended-spectrum Beta-lactamases (ESBLs) in Klebsiella pneumonia, Escherichia coli, and Proteus species and high level third-generation cephalosporin Beta-lactamase resistance among Enterobacter spp. and Citrobacter spp., and multidrug resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter species. To conclude, additional efforts are needed in the future to slow down the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Constant evaluation of current practice on basis of trends in MDR and antibiotic consumption patterns is essential to make progress in this problematic matter.
PMCID: PMC3231873  PMID: 22112929
5.  Erythropoietin in the intensive care unit: beyond treatment of anemia 
Erythropoietin (EPO) is the major hormone stimulating the production and differentiation of red blood cells. EPO is used widely for treating anemia of critical illness or anemia induced by chemotherapy. EPO at pharmacological doses is used in this setting to raise hemoglobin levels (by preventing the apoptosis of erythroid progenitor cells) and is designed to reduce patient exposure to allogenic blood through transfusions. Stroke, heart failure, and acute kidney injury are a frequently encountered clinical problem. Unfortunately, in the intensive care unit advances in supportive interventions have done little to reduce the high mortality associated with these conditions. Tissue protection with EPO at high, nonpharmacological doses after injury has been found in the brain, heart, and kidney of several animal models. It is now well known that EPO has anti-apoptotic effects in cells other than erythroid progenitor cells, which is considered to be independent of EPOs erythropoietic activities. This review article summarizes what is known in preclinical models of critical illness and discusses why this does not correlate with randomized, controlled clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3224459  PMID: 21943500
6.  The effects of hypertonic fluid administration on the gene expression of inflammatory mediators in circulating leucocytes in patients with septic shock: a preliminary study 
This study was designed to investigate the effect of hypertonic fluid administration on inflammatory mediator gene expression in patients with septic shock.
Design and setting
Prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical study in a 15-bed mixed intensive care unit in a tertiary referral teaching hospital.
Twenty-four patients, who met standard criteria for septic shock, were randomized to receive a bolus of hypertonic fluid (HT, 250 ml 6% HES/7.2% NaCl) or isotonic fluid (IT, 500 ml 6% HES/0.9% NaCl) administered over 15 minutes. Randomization and study fluid administration was within 24 hours of ICU admission for all patients. This trial is registered with as ACTRN12607000259448.
Blood samples were taken immediately before and 4, 8, 12, and 24 hours after fluid administration. Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT rtPCR) was used to quantify mRNA expression of different inflammatory mediators in peripheral leukocytes. In the HT group, compared with the IT group, levels of gene expression of MMP9 and L-selectin were significantly suppressed (p = 0.0002 and p = 0.007, respectively), and CD11b gene expression tended to be elevated (p = NS). No differences were found in the other mediators examined.
In septic shock patients, hypertonic fluid administration compared with isotonic fluid may modulate expression of genes that are implicated in leukocyte-endothelial interaction and capillary leakage.
The study was performed at the Intensive Care Department, Waikato Hospital, and at the Molecular Genetics Laboratory, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12607000259448
PMCID: PMC3217886  PMID: 22044529
7.  Variability in the pediatric intensivists' threshold for withdrawal/limitation of life support as perceived by bedside nurses: a multicenter survey study 
We hypothesized that bedside nurses perceive significant variability in the pediatric intensivist thresholds for approaching a family about withdrawal/limitation of life-sustaining therapy.
All nurses working in four university-affiliated medical-surgical pediatric intensive care units staffed by 11, 7, 6, and 5 intensivists with 36, 18, 10, and 8 beds were sent three mailings of a survey asking questions about intensivist decisions for withdrawal/limitation of life-sustaining therapy. Responses were tabulated; chi-square compared results among centers; a p < 0.05 after Bonferroni correction was significant.
The response rate was 205 of 415 (49%); 152 of 205 (74%) disagreed with the statement that each of the intensivists had the same threshold for approaching a family to suggest withdrawal/limitation of life-sustaining therapy, with no significant difference between centers. Also, 110 of 205 (54%) and 119 of 205 (58%) disagreed with the statement that each intensivist has the same threshold of the patient's chance for survival or projected quality of life when making a decision to withdraw/limit life-sustaining therapy with no significant difference between centers. The threshold to suggest withdraw/limit life-sustaining therapy based on chance of survival or projected quality of life differs between intensivists by at least 10% according to 113 of 184 (61%) and 121 of 184 (66%) nurses; the two larger centers had significantly higher difference among intensivists for projected quality of life. Fifty-five of 200 (27%) disagreed with the statement that they would have equal confidence in each intensivist accepting a recommendation for withdrawal/limitation of life-sustaining therapy for their own child, with no difference between centers.
Bedside pediatric intensive care unit nurses in this multicenter Canadian study perceive wide variability in intensivist thresholds for approaching a family to suggest withdrawal/limitation of life-sustaining therapy.
PMCID: PMC3224498  PMID: 21906385
8.  Sleep quality in mechanically ventilated patients: comparison between NAVA and PSV modes 
Mechanical ventilation seems to occupy a major source in alteration in the quality and quantity of sleep among patients in intensive care. Quality of sleep is negatively affected with frequent patient-ventilator asynchronies and more specifically with modes of ventilation. The quality of sleep among ventilated patients seems to be related in part to the alteration between the capacities of the ventilator to meet patient demand. The objective of this study was to compare the impact of two modes of ventilation and patient-ventilator interaction on sleep architecture.
Prospective, comparative crossover study in 14 conscious, nonsedated, mechanically ventilated adults, during weaning in a university hospital medical intensive care unit. Patients were successively ventilated in a random ordered cross-over sequence with neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) and pressure support ventilation (PSV). Sleep polysomnography was performed during four 4-hour periods, two with each mode in random order.
The tracings of the flow, airway pressure, and electrical activity of the diaphragm were used to diagnose central apneas and ineffective efforts. The main abnormalities were a low percentage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, for a median (25th-75th percentiles) of 11.5% (range, 8-20%) of total sleep, and a highly fragmented sleep with 25 arousals and awakenings per hour of sleep. Proportions of REM sleep duration were different in the two ventilatory modes (4.5% (range, 3-11%) in PSV and 16.5% (range, 13-29%) during NAVA (p = 0.001)), as well as the fragmentation index, with 40 ± 20 arousals and awakenings per hour in PSV and 16 ± 9 during NAVA (p = 0.001). There were large differences in ineffective efforts (24 ± 23 per hour of sleep in PSV, and 0 during NAVA) and episodes of central apnea (10.5 ± 11 in PSV vs. 0 during NAVA). Minute ventilation was similar in both modes.
NAVA improves the quality of sleep over PSV in terms of REM sleep, fragmentation index, and ineffective efforts in a nonsedated adult population.
PMCID: PMC3224529  PMID: 21955588
9.  Perioperative fluid and volume management: physiological basis, tools and strategies 
Fluid and volume therapy is an important cornerstone of treating critically ill patients in the intensive care unit and in the operating room. New findings concerning the vascular barrier, its physiological functions, and its role regarding vascular leakage have lead to a new view of fluid and volume administration. Avoiding hypervolemia, as well as hypovolemia, plays a pivotal role when treating patients both perioperatively and in the intensive care unit. The various studies comparing restrictive vs. liberal fluid and volume management are not directly comparable, do not differ (in most instances) between colloid and crystalloid administration, and mostly do not refer to the vascular barrier's physiologic basis. In addition, very few studies have analyzed the use of advanced hemodynamic monitoring for volume management.
This article summarizes the current literature on the relevant physiology of the endothelial surface layer, discusses fluid shifting, reviews available research on fluid management strategies and the commonly used fluids, and identifies suitable variables for hemodynamic monitoring and their goal-directed use.
PMCID: PMC3159903  PMID: 21906324
10.  Red blood cell transfusion in the critically ill patient 
Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is a common intervention in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Anemia is frequent in this population and is associated with poor outcomes, especially in patients with ischemic heart disease. Although blood transfusions are generally given to improve tissue oxygenation, they do not systematically increase oxygen consumption and effects on oxygen delivery are not always very impressive. Blood transfusion may be lifesaving in some circumstances, but many studies have reported increased morbidity and mortality in transfused patients. This review focuses on some important aspects of RBC transfusion in the ICU, including physiologic considerations, a brief description of serious infectious and noninfectious hazards of transfusion, and the effects of RBC storage lesions. Emphasis is placed on the importance of personalizing blood transfusion according to physiological endpoints rather than arbitrary thresholds.
PMCID: PMC3207872  PMID: 21970512
11.  Septic AKI in ICU patients. diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment type, dosing, and timing: a comprehensive review of recent and future developments 
Evidence is accumulating showing that septic acute kidney injury (AKI) is different from non-septic AKI. Specifically, a large body of research points to apoptotic processes underlying septic AKI. Unravelling the complex and intertwined apoptotic and immuno-inflammatory pathways at the cellular level will undoubtedly create new and exciting perspectives for the future development (e.g., caspase inhibition) or refinement (specific vasopressor use) of therapeutic strategies. Shock complicating sepsis may cause more AKI but also will render treatment of this condition in an hemodynamically unstable patient more difficult. Expert opinion, along with the aggregated results of two recent large randomized trials, favors continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) as preferential treatment for septic AKI (hemodynamically unstable). It is suggested that this approach might decrease the need for subsequent chronic dialysis. Large-scale introduction of citrate as an anticoagulant most likely will change CRRT management in intensive care units (ICU), because it not only significantly increases filter lifespan but also better preserves filter porosity. A possible role of citrate in reducing mortality and morbidity, mainly in surgical ICU patients, remains to be proven. Also, citrate administration in the predilution mode appears to be safe and exempt of relevant side effects, yet still requires rigorous monitoring. Current consensus exists about using a CRRT dose of 25 ml/kg/h in non-septic AKI. However, because patients should not be undertreated, this implies that doses as high as 30 to 35 ml/kg/h must be prescribed to account for eventual treatment interruptions. Awaiting results from large, ongoing trials, 35 ml/kg/h should remain the standard dose in septic AKI, particularly when shock is present. To date, exact timing of CRRT is not well defined. A widely accepted composite definition of timing is needed before an appropriate study challenging this major issue can be launched.
PMCID: PMC3224527  PMID: 21906387
Hemofiltration; Acute Kidney Injury; Pathphysiology; Dosing; Timing; Diagnosis; Review; CRRT; Dialysis; Septic Acute Kidney Injury; Sepsis; SIRS
12.  Mitochondrial dysfunction and biogenesis: do ICU patients die from mitochondrial failure? 
Mitochondrial functions include production of energy, activation of programmed cell death, and a number of cell specific tasks, e.g., cell signaling, control of Ca2+ metabolism, and synthesis of a number of important biomolecules. As proper mitochondrial function is critical for normal performance and survival of cells, mitochondrial dysfunction often leads to pathological conditions resulting in various human diseases. Recently mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to multiple organ failure (MOF) often leading to the death of critical care patients. However, there are two main reasons why this insight did not generate an adequate resonance in clinical settings. First, most data regarding mitochondrial dysfunction in organs susceptible to failure in critical care diseases (liver, kidney, heart, lung, intestine, brain) were collected using animal models. Second, there is no clear therapeutic strategy how acquired mitochondrial dysfunction can be improved. Only the benefit of such therapies will confirm the critical role of mitochondrial dysfunction in clinical settings. Here we summarized data on mitochondrial dysfunction obtained in diverse experimental systems, which are related to conditions seen in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Particular attention is given to mechanisms that cause cell death and organ dysfunction and to prospective therapeutic strategies, directed to recover mitochondrial function. Collectively the data discussed in this review suggest that appropriate diagnosis and specific treatment of mitochondrial dysfunction in ICU patients may significantly improve the clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3224479  PMID: 21942988
13.  Training in critical care echocardiography 
Echocardiography is useful for the diagnosis and management of hemodynamic failure in the intensive care unit so that competence in some elements of echocardiography is a core skill of the critical care specialist. An important issue is how to provide training to intensivists so that they are competent in the field. This article will review issues related to training in critical care echocardiography.
PMCID: PMC3177879  PMID: 21906268
14.  New materials and devices for preventing catheter-related infections 
Catheters are the leading source of bloodstream infections for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Comprehensive unit-based programs have proven to be effective in decreasing catheter-related bloodstream infections (CR-BSIs). ICU rates of CR-BSI higher than 2 per 1,000 catheter-days are no longer acceptable. The locally adapted list of preventive measures should include skin antisepsis with an alcoholic preparation, maximal barrier precautions, a strict catheter maintenance policy, and removal of unnecessary catheters. The development of new technologies capable of further decreasing the now low CR-BSI rate is a major challenge. Recently, new materials that decrease the risk of skin-to-vein bacterial migration, such as new antiseptic dressings, were extensively tested. Antimicrobial-coated catheters can prevent CR-BSI but have a theoretical risk of selecting resistant bacteria. An antimicrobial or antiseptic lock may prevent bacterial migration from the hub to the bloodstream. This review discusses the available knowledge about these new technologies.
PMCID: PMC3170570  PMID: 21906266
15.  Clinical detection and monitoring of acute pulmonary embolism: proof of concept of a computer-based method 
The diagnostic ability of computer-based methods for cardiovascular system (CVS) monitoring offers significant clinical potential. This research tests the clinical applicability of a newly improved computer-based method for the proof of concept case of tracking changes in important hemodynamic indices due to the influence acute pulmonary embolism (APE).
Hemodynamic measurements from a porcine model of APE were used to validate the method. Of these measurements, only those that are clinically available or inferable were used in to identify pig-specific computer models of the CVS, including the aortic and pulmonary artery pressure, stroke volume, heart rate, global end diastolic volume, and mitral and tricuspid valve closure times. Changes in the computer-derived parameters were analyzed and compared with experimental metrics and clinical indices to assess the clinical applicability of the technique and its ability to track the disease state.
The subject-specific computer models accurately captured the increase in pulmonary resistance (Rpul), the main cardiovascular consequence of APE, in all five pigs trials, which related well (R2 = 0.81) with the experimentally derived pulmonary vascular resistance. An increase in right ventricular contractility was identified, as expected, consistent with known reflex responses to APE. Furthermore, the modeled right ventricular expansion index (the ratio of right to left ventricular end diastolic volumes) closely followed the trends seen in the measured data (R2 = 0.92) used for validation, with sharp increases seen in the metric for the two pigs in a near-death state. These results show that the pig-specific models are capable of tracking disease-dependent changes in pulmonary resistance (afterload), right ventricular contractility (inotropy), and ventricular loading (preload) during induced APE. Continuous, accurate estimation of these fundamental metrics of cardiovascular status can help to assist clinicians with diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy-based decisions in an intensive care environment. Furthermore, because the method only uses measurements already available in the ICU, it can be implemented with no added risk to the patient and little extra cost.
This computer-based monitoring method shows potential for real-time, continuous diagnosis and monitoring of acute CVS dysfunction in critically ill patients.
PMCID: PMC3224493  PMID: 21906388
16.  Clinical significance of elevated B-type natriuretic peptide in patients with acute lung injury with or without right ventricular dilatation: an observational cohort study 
The primary objective of this study was to examine levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in mechanically ventilated patients with acute lung injury and to test whether the level of BNP would be higher in patients with right ventricular dilatation and would predict mortality.
This was a prospective, observational cohort study of 42 patients conducted in the intensive care unit of a tertiary care university hospital. BNP was measured and transthoracic echocardiography was performed within 48 hours of the onset of acute lung injury. The left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, right ventricular systolic function, and cardiac output were assessed. BNP was compared in patients with and without right ventricular dilatation, as well as in survivors versus nonsurvivors.
BNP was elevated in mechanically ventilated patients with acute lung injury (median 420 pg/ml; 25-75% interquartile range 156-728 pg/ml). There was no difference between patients with and without right ventricular dilatation (420 pg/ml, 119-858 pg/ml vs. 387 pg/ml, 156-725 pg/ml; p = 0.96). There was no difference in BNP levels between the patients who died and those who survived at 30 days (420 pg/ml, 120-728 pg/ml vs. 385 pg/ml, 159-1070 pg/ml; p = 0.71).
In patients with acute lung injury the level of BNP is increased, but there is no difference in the BNP level between patients with and without right ventricular dilatation. Furthermore, BNP level is not predictive of mortality in this population.
PMCID: PMC3224453  PMID: 21906356
17.  Hemodynamic parameters to guide fluid therapy 
The clinical determination of the intravascular volume can be extremely difficult in critically ill and injured patients as well as those undergoing major surgery. This is problematic because fluid loading is considered the first step in the resuscitation of hemodynamically unstable patients. Yet, multiple studies have demonstrated that only approximately 50% of hemodynamically unstable patients in the intensive care unit and operating room respond to a fluid challenge. Whereas under-resuscitation results in inadequate organ perfusion, accumulating data suggest that over-resuscitation increases the morbidity and mortality of critically ill patients. Cardiac filling pressures, including the central venous pressure and pulmonary artery occlusion pressure, have been traditionally used to guide fluid management. However, studies performed during the past 30 years have demonstrated that cardiac filling pressures are unable to predict fluid responsiveness. During the past decade, a number of dynamic tests of volume responsiveness have been reported. These tests dynamically monitor the change in stroke volume after a maneuver that increases or decreases venous return (preload) and challenges the patients' Frank-Starling curve. These dynamic tests use the change in stroke volume during mechanical ventilation or after a passive leg raising maneuver to assess fluid responsiveness. The stroke volume is measured continuously and in real-time by minimally invasive or noninvasive technologies, including Doppler methods, pulse contour analysis, and bioreactance.
PMCID: PMC3159904  PMID: 21906322
18.  Evaluation of "Candida score" in critically ill patients: a prospective, multicenter, observational, cohort study 
Although prompt initiation of appropriate antifungal therapy is essential for the control of invasive Candida infections and an improvement of prognosis, early diagnosis of invasive candidiasis remains a challenge and criteria for starting empirical antifungal therapy in ICU patients are poorly defined. Some scoring systems, such as the "Candida score" could help physicians to differentiate patients who could benefit from early antifungal treatment from those for whom invasive candidiasis is highly improbable. This study evaluated the performance of this score in a cohort of critically ill patients.
A prospective, observational, multicenter, cohort study was conducted from January 2010 to March 2011 in five intensive care units in Nord-Pas de Calais, an area from North of France. All patients exhibiting, on ICU admission or during their ICU stay, a hospital-acquired severe sepsis or septic shock could be included in this study. The data collected included patient characteristics on ICU admission and at the onset of severe sepsis or septic shock. The "Candida score" was calculated at the onset of sepsis or shock. The incidence of invasive candidiasis was determined and its relationship with the value of the "Candida score" was studied.
Ninety-four patients were studied. When severe sepsis or shock occurred, 44 patients had a score = 2, 29 patients had a score = 3, 17 patients had a score = 4, and 4 patients had a score = 5. Invasive candidiasis was observed in five (5.3%) patients. One patient had candidemia, three patients had peritonitis, and one patient had pleural infection. The rates of invasive candidiasis was 0% in patients with score = 2 or 3, 17.6% in patients with score = 4, and 50% in patients with score = 5 (p < 0.0001).
Our results confirm that the "Candida score" is an interesting tool to differentiate among ICU patients who exhibit hospital-acquired severe sepsis or septic shock those would benefit from early antifungal treatment (score > 3) from those for whom invasive candidiasis is highly improbable (score ≤ 3).
PMCID: PMC3247094  PMID: 22128895
19.  The effect of red blood cell transfusion on tissue oxygenation and microcirculation in severe septic patients 
Microcirculation plays a vital role in the development of multiple organ failure in severe sepsis. The effects of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions on these tissue oxygenation and microcirculation variables in early severe sepsis are not well defined.
This is a prospective, observational study of patients with severe sepsis requiring RBC transfusions of one to two units of non-leukoreduced RBCs for a hemoglobin < 7.0, or for a hemoglobin between 7.0 and 9.0 with lactic acidosis or central venous oxygen saturation < 70%. This study took place in a 54-bed, medical-surgical intensive care unit of a university-affiliated hospital. Thenar tissue oxygen saturation was measured by using a tissue spectrometer on 21 patients, and a vaso-occlusive test was performed before and 1 hour after transfusion. The sublingual microcirculation was assessed with a Sidestream Dark Field device concomitantly on 11 of them.
RBC transfusion resulted in increase in hemoglobin (7.23 (± 0.87) to 8.75 (± 1.06) g/dl; p < 0.001). RBC transfusion did not globally affect near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS)-derived variables. However, percent change in muscle oxygen consumption was negatively correlated with baseline (r = - 0.679, p = 0.001). There was no statistically significant correlation between percent change in vascular reactivity and baseline (p = 0.275). There was a positive correlation between percent change in oxygen consumption and percent change in vascular reactivity (r = 0.442, p = 0.045). In the 11 patients, RBC transfusion did not globally affect NIRS-derived variables or SDF-derived variables. There was no statistically significant correlation between percent change in small vessel perfusion and baseline perfusion (r = -0.474, p = 0.141), between percent change in small vessel flow and baseline flow (r = -0.418, p = 0.201), or between percent change in small vessel perfusion and percent change in small vessel flow (r = 0.435, p = 0.182).
In a small sample population, muscle tissue oxygen consumption, microvascular reactivity and sublingual microcirculation were globally unaltered by RBC transfusion in severe septic patients. However, muscle oxygen consumption improved in patients with low baseline and deteriorated in patients with preserved baseline. Future research with larger samples is needed to further examine the association between RBC transfusion and outcomes of patients resuscitated early in severe sepsis, with an emphasis on elucidating the potential contribution of microvascular factors.
PMCID: PMC3256106  PMID: 22067279
20.  Colistin: recent data on pharmacodynamics properties and clinical efficacy in critically ill patients 
Recent clinical studies performed in a large number of patients showed that colistin "forgotten" for several decades revived for the management of infections due to multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) and had acceptable effectiveness and considerably less toxicity than that reported in older publications. Colistin is a rapidly bactericidal antimicrobial agent that possesses a significant postantibiotic effect against MDR Gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The optimal colistin dosing regimen against MDR GNB is still unknown in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting. A better understanding of the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationship of colistin is urgently needed to determine the optimal dosing regimen. Although pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data in ICU patients are scarce, recent evidence shows that the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of colistimethate sodium and colistin in critically ill patients differ from those previously found in other groups, such as cystic fibrosis patients. The AUC:MIC ratio has been found to be the parameter best associated with colistin efficacy. To maximize the AUC:MIC ratio, higher doses of colistimethate sodium and alterations in the dosing intervals may be warranted in the ICU setting. In addition, the development of colistin resistance has been linked to inadequate colistin dosing. This enforces the importance of colistin dose optimization in critically ill patients. Although higher colistin doses seem to be beneficial, the lack of colistin pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data results in difficulty for the optimization of daily colistin dose. In conclusion, although colistin seems to be a very reliable alternative for the management of life-threatening nosocomial infections due to MDR GNB, it should be emphasized that there is a lack of guidelines regarding the ideal management of these infections and the appropriate colistin doses in critically ill patients with and without multiple organ failure.
PMCID: PMC3224467  PMID: 21906382
21.  Renal and neurological side effects of colistin in critically ill patients 
Colistin is a complex polypeptide antibiotic composed mainly of colistin A and B. It was abandoned from clinical use in the 1970s because of significant renal and, to a lesser extent, neurological toxicity. Actually, colistin is increasingly put forward as salvage or even first-line treatment for severe multidrug-resistant, Gram-negative bacterial infections, particularly in the intensive care setting. We reviewed the most recent literature on colistin treatment, focusing on efficacy and toxicity issues. The method used for literature search was based on a PubMed retrieval using very precise criteria.
Despite large variations in dose and duration, colistin treatment produces relatively high clinical cure rates. Colistin is potentially nephrotoxic but currently used criteria tend to overestimate the incidence of kidney injury. Nephrotoxicity independently predicts fewer cures of infection and increased mortality. Total cumulative colistin dose is associated with kidney damage, suggesting that shortening of treatment duration could decrease the incidence of nephrotoxicity. Factors that may enhance colistin nephrotoxicity (i.e., shock, hypoalbuminemia, concomitant use of potentially nephrotoxic drugs) must be combated or controlled. Neurotoxicity does not seem to be a major issue during colistin treatment. A better knowledge of colistin pharmacokinetics in critically ill patients is imperative for obtaining colistin dosing regimens that ensure maximal antibacterial activity at minimal toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3224475  PMID: 21906345
22.  An integrated approach for prescribing fewer chest x-rays in the ICU 
Chest x-rays (CXRs) are the main imaging tool in intensive care units (ICUs). CXRs also are associated with concerns inherent to their use, considering both healthcare organization and patient perspectives. In recent years, several studies have focussed on the feasibility of lowering the number of bedside CXRs performed in the ICU. Such a decrease may result from two independent and complementary processes: a raw reduction of CXRs due to the elimination of unnecessary investigations, and replacement of the CXR by an alternative technique. The goal of this review is to outline emblematic examples corresponding to these two processes. The first part of the review concerns the accumulation of evidence-based data for abandoning daily routine CXRs in mechanically ventilated patients and adopting an on-demand prescription strategy. The second part of the review addresses the use of alternative techniques to CXRs. This part begins with the presentation of ultrasonography or capnography combined with epigastric auscultation for ensuring the correct position of enteral feeding tubes. Ultrasonography is then also presented as an alternative to CXR for diagnosing and monitoring pneumothoraces, as well as a valuable post-procedural technique after central venous catheter insertion. The combination of the emblematic examples presented in this review supports an integrated global approach for decreasing the number of CXRs ordered in the ICU.
PMCID: PMC3159900  PMID: 21906323
23.  Management of neurological complications of infective endocarditis in ICU patients 
Patients with infective endocarditis (IE) are generally referred to the intensive care unit (ICU) for one or more organ dysfunctions caused by complications of IE. Neurologic events are frequent causes of ICU admission in patients with IE. They can arise through various mechanisms consisting of stroke or transient ischemic attack, cerebral hemorrhage, mycotic aneurysm, meningitis, cerebral abscess, or encephalopathy. Most complications occur early during the course of IE and are a hallmark of left-sided abnormalities of native or prosthetic valves. Occlusion of cerebral arteries, with stroke or transient ischemic attack, accounts for 40% to 50% of the central nervous system complications of IE. CT scan is the most easily feasible neuroimaging in critically unstable patients. However, magnetic resonance imaging is more sensitive and when performed should follow a standardized protocol. In patients with ischemic stroke who are already receiving oral anticoagulant therapy, this treatment should be replaced by unfractionated heparin for at least 2 weeks with a close monitoring of coagulation tests. Mounting evidence shows that, for both complicated left-sided native valve endocarditis and Staphylococcus aureus prosthetic valve endocarditis, valve replacement combined with medical therapy is associated with a better outcome than medical treatment alone. In a recent series, approximately 50% of patients underwent valve replacement during the acute phase of IE before completion of antibiotic treatment. After a neurological event, most patients have at least one indication for cardiac surgery. Recent data from literature suggest that after a stroke, surgery indicated for heart failure, uncontrolled infection, abscess, or persisting high emboli risk should not be delayed, provided that the patient is not comatose or has no severe deficit. Neurologic complications of IE contribute to a severe prognosis in ICU patients. However, patients with only silent or transient stroke had a better prognosis than patients with symptomatic events. In addition, more than neurologic event per se, a better predictor of mortality is neurologic dysfunction, which is associated with location and extension of brain damage. Patients with severe neurological impairment and those with brain hemorrhage have the worse outcome.
PMCID: PMC3224466  PMID: 21906336
24.  Retrospective evaluation of possible renal toxicity associated with continuous infusion of vancomycin in critically ill patients 
Continuous infusion of vancomycin is increasingly preferred as an alternative to intermittent administration in critically ill patients. Intermittent vancomycin treatment is associated with an increased occurrence of nephrotoxicity. This study was designed to determine the incidence and risk factors of acute kidney injury (AKI) during continuous infusion of vancomycin.
This was a retrospective, observational, two-center, cohort study in patients with microbiologically documented Gram-positive pneumonia and/or bacteremia and normal baseline renal function. Vancomycin dose was adjusted daily aiming at plateau concentrations of 15-25 μg/mL. AKI was defined as an increase in serum creatinine of 0.3 mg/dL or a 1.5 to 2 times increase from baseline on at least 2 consecutive days after the initiation of vancomycin. Primary data analysis compared patients with AKI with patients who did not develop AKI. A binary logistic regression analysis using the forward stepwise method was used to assess the risk factors associated with AKI.
A total of 129 patients were studied of whom 38 (29.5%) developed AKI. Patients with AKI had higher body weight (77.3 ± 15 vs. 70.5 ± 15.2 kg; p = 0.02), more diabetes (79% vs. 54%; p = 0.01), and a higher vasopressor need (87% vs. 59%; p = 0.002). Serum vancomycin levels, body weight, and SAPS 3 score were identified as variables contributing to AKI. The incidence of AKI increased substantially when treatment duration was prolonged (14.9 ± 9.8 vs. 9.2 ± 4.9 days; p = 0.05) and plasma levels exceeded 30 μg/mL.
AKI is frequently observed during continuous vancomycin infusion, particularly when conditions that cause acute (shock) or chronic (diabetes) renal dysfunction are present and vancomycin levels above target range are achieved. Although this study challenges the concept that continuous vancomycin infusion might alleviate the risk of nephrotoxicity in critically ill patients, a direct relationship between vancomycin and nephrotoxicity remains to be proven.
PMCID: PMC3224465  PMID: 21906376
25.  The strategy of antibiotic use in critically ill neutropenic patients 
Suspicion of sepsis in neutropenic patients requires immediate antimicrobial treatment. The initial regimen in critically ill patients should cover both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, the risk of selecting multidrug-resistant pathogens should be considered when using broad-spectrum antibiotics for a prolonged period of time. The choice of the first-line empirical drugs should take into account the underlying malignancy, local bacterial ecology, clinical presentation and severity of acute illness. This review provides an up-to-date guide that will assist physicians in choosing the best strategy regarding the use of antibiotics in neutropenic patients, with a special focus on critically ill patients, based on the above-mentioned considerations and on the most recent international guidelines and literature.
PMCID: PMC3224396  PMID: 21906359

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