Is Admission to the Intensive Care Unit Associated With Chronic Opioid Use? A 4-Year Follow-Up of Intensive Care Unit Survivors

Purpose:  To describe opioid use before and after intensive care unit (ICU) admission and to identify factors associated with chronic opioid use upto 4 years after ICU discharge.

Methods:  Retrospective review of adult patients admitted to the ICU at a tertiary care center between January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2008. We defined “nonuser,” “intermittent,” and “chronic” opioid status by abstinence, use in 70% of days for a given time period, respectively. We assessed opioid use at 3 months prior to ICU admission, at discharge, and annually for upto 4 years following ICU discharge.

Results:  A total of 2595 ICU patients were included for surgical (48.6%), medical (38.4%), and undetermined (13%) indications. The study population included both elective (26.9%) and emergent (73.1%) admissions. Three months prior to ICU admission, 76.9% were nonusers, 16.9% used opioids intermittently, and 6.2% used opioids chronically. We found an increase in nonuser patients from 87.8% in the early post-ICU period to 95.6% at 48-month follow-up. Consequently, intermittent and chronic opioid use dropped to 8.6% and 3.6% at discharge and 2.6% and 1.8% at 48-month follow-up, respectively. Prolonged hospital length of stay was associated with chronic opioid use.

Conclusion:  Admission to ICU and duration of ICU stay were not associated with chronic opioid use.

This research was published in the August 2017 issue of “Journal of Intensive Care Medicine” by Yaffe, Green, Buttler and Witter.  Library members can order the full text of this and other articles via the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust Library and Knowledge Service website using the article requests online via this link

Progesterone for acute traumatic brain injury

This systematic review by Ma et al was published in the Cochrane Library in December 2016.  The text below is the plain language summary with the full text available via this link.

Review question  To find out whether using the hormone progesterone to treat people who have had an injury to the head that caused brain damage (traumatic brain injury (TBI)) is helpful and safe, if given within 24 hours of the injury.
Background  TBI is one of the main causes of death and disability in people with injuries. Damage to the brain can start at the time of the injury, but can continue for days after the injury too. Progesterone is a hormone that some doctors think could be used as a potential medicine for reducing brain damage if given shortly after TBI. However, as there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of this hormone, it is important that we assess the evidence.
Study characteristics  We searched the medical literature widely for randomised controlled trials that investigated the effects of progesterone in people with TBI up to 30 September 2016. Randomised controlled trials provide the most robust medical evidence. .
Key results:  We included five studies with a total of 2392 participants, and identified three ongoing studies. The studies all compared a group of participants who received progesterone within 24 hours of TBI against a group who received a pretend – or dummy – medicine (known as a placebo) that looked the same as the progesterone.  The results of our review did not find evidence that, when compared to placebo, progesterone could reduce death and disability in people with TBI. There were too few data available on the other outcomes that we were interested in (pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure), blood pressure, body temperature and adverse events (harms)), for us to be able to analyse these in detail. However, although the information available shows no evidence of a difference in effect between the progesterone and control groups for intracranial pressure, blood pressure or body temperature, one study showed an increased level of an adverse event called phlebitis (inflammation in the vein) in the progesterone group, possibly because the progestreone was given into the vein through an intravascular infusion (‘drip’).
Quality of the evidence  We judged the quality of the evidence to be low for the data on risk of death, and moderate for the data on risk of disability. These judgements resulted from differences across studies, including different doses of progesterone and different time points for assessment of participants in the included studies. This means that we have limited confidence in the conclusions of this review.

Perioperative complications of obese patients

Kiss, T. et al. Current Opinion in Critical Care. August 2016 22(4). pp. 401–405

Purpose of review: The perioperative care of obese patients can often be challenging, as the presence of comorbidities is common in this patient population. In this article, we present recent data on perioperative complications of obese patients and discuss relevant details for daily practice, including drug dosing, airway management, and mechanical ventilation.

Recent findings: The volatile agent desflurane reduces extubation time, without major effects on postoperative anesthesia care unit discharge time, incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, or postoperative pain scores compared with other volatile anesthetics. Lean body weight is the most appropriate dosing scalar for most drugs used in anesthesia, including opioids and anesthetic induction agents. Compared with the operational theatre, airway complications occur 20-fold more often in the ICU, with poor outcome. Individual titration of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) after lung recruitment improves gas exchange and lung mechanics intraoperatively, but data on patient outcome are lacking.

Summary: Intensive care physicians who treat obese patients need to be trained in the management of the difficult airway. The application of PEEP and the use of recruitment maneuvers may lead to improved intraoperative oxygenation, but current data do not allow recommending the use of high PEEP combined with lung recruitment maneuvers in this population.

Read the abstract here

Automatic versus manual changeovers of norepinephrine infusion pumps in critically ill adults: a prospective controlled study

Critically ill; Shock; Changeover; Catecholamines; Norepinephrine; Smart infusion pumps


annals of intensive careNorepinephrine is a key drug for treating shock but has a short half-life that requires continuous intravenous administration to maintain the constant plasma concentration needed to obtain a stable blood pressure. The small volume of the syringes used in power infusion pumps requires frequent changeovers, which can lead to norepinephrine flow interruptions responsible for hemodynamic instability. Changeovers from the nearly empty to the full syringe can be performed manually using the quick change technique (QC) or automatically using smart infusion pumps (SIP) that link two syringes. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the hypothesis that, compared to QC, SIP for norepinephrine changeovers was associated with less hemodynamic instability.

After information of the patient or next of kin, patients receiving norepinephrine for shock were allocated to QC or SIP changeovers. QC changeovers were performed by a nurse, who started a new loaded pump when the previous syringe was nearly empty. SIP changeovers were managed automatically by SIP workstations. The primary outcome was the proportion of changeovers followed by a ≥20 % drop in mean arterial pressure (MAP).

411 changeovers were performed, 193 in the 18 patients allocated to QC and 218 in the 32 patients allocated to SIP. Baseline patient characteristics were similar in both groups. The proportion of changeovers followed by an MAP drop ≥20 % was 12.4 % (24/193) with QC and 5.5 % (12/218) with SIP (P = 0.01). By multivariate analysis, two factors were independently associated with a significantly decreased risk of ≥20 % MAP drops during changeovers, namely, SIP (odds ratio, 0.47; 95 % confidence interval, 0.22–0.98) and norepinephrine dosage >0.5 μg/kg/min (odds ratio, 0.39; 95 % confidence interval, 0.19–0.81).

The risk of MAP drops ≥20 % during changeovers can be significantly diminished using SIPs instead of the QC method.