Interventions affecting mortality in critically ill and perioperative patients

Martina, B.R. et al. Journal of Critical Care | Published online: 4 May 2017


  • No systematic exploration of confounders in randomized controlled trials reporting a significant effect on mortality in critically ill patients has been performed.
  • Almost half of these trials were single centre and one third were not analysed according to the intention to treat principle, inflating effect size.
  • Blinded and/or multicentre design was associated with an increased number needed to treat/harm.
  • Major systematic biases exist and affect trial findings irrespective of the intervention being studied.

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Preoperative risk stratification of critically ill patients

Copeland, C.C. et al. (2017) The Journal of Clinical Anesthesia. 39 (June) pp. 122–127



  • Preoperative assessment of critically ill patients is challenging and understudied.
  • ASA class, RCRI, and SOFA score were studied to predict survival to discharge.
  • One in four ICU patients did not survive to discharge after an intervention.
  • Available scores inadequately discriminated between survivors and non-survivors.
  • SOFA score (AUC = 0.68) outperformed ASA class (AUC = 0.59).

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Care of the eye during anaesthesia and intensive care

 O’Driscoll, A. & White, E. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine. Published online: November 26 2016

B0004383 Distorted reflection of an eye

Image source: Dianne Harris – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Perioperative eye injuries and blindness are rare but important complications of anaesthesia. The three causes of postoperative blindness are ischaemic optic neuropathy, central retinal artery thrombosis (these can exist in tandem and have been described as ischaemic oculopathies) and cortical blindness.

This review aims to improve anaesthetists’ knowledge of orbital anatomy, ocular physiology and the mechanisms of perioperative eye injuries to help reduce their occurrence.

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Effect of Chlorhexidine Bathing Every Other Day on Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections in the Surgical ICU

Swan, J.T. et al. (2016) Critical Care Medicine. 44(10) pp. 1822–1832

rubber-duck-1390639_960_720Objective: To test the hypothesis that compared with daily soap and water bathing, 2% chlorhexidine gluconate bathing every other day for up to 28 days decreases the risk of hospital-acquired catheter-associated urinary tract infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, incisional surgical site infection, and primary bloodstream infection in surgical ICU patients.

Design: This was a single-center, pragmatic, randomized trial. Patients and clinicians were aware of treatment-group assignment; investigators who determined outcomes were blinded.

Setting: Twenty-four–bed surgical ICU at a quaternary academic medical center.

Patients: Adults admitted to the surgical ICU from July 2012 to May 2013 with an anticipated surgical ICU stay for 48 hours or more were included.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to bathing with 2% chlorhexidine every other day alternating with soap and water every other day (treatment arm) or to bathing with soap and water daily (control arm).

Measurements and Main Results: The primary endpoint was a composite outcome of catheter-associated urinary tract infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, incisional surgical site infection, and primary bloodstream infection. Of 350 patients randomized, 24 were excluded due to prior enrollment in this trial and one withdrew consent. Therefore, 325 were analyzed (164 soap and water versus 161 chlorhexidine). Patients acquired 53 infections. Compared with soap and water bathing, chlorhexidine bathing every other day decreased the risk of acquiring infections (hazard ratio = 0.555; 95% CI, 0.309–0.997; p = 0.049). For patients bathed with soap and water versus chlorhexidine, counts of incident hospital-acquired infections were 14 versus 7 for catheter-associated urinary tract infection, 13 versus 8 for ventilator-associated pneumonia, 6 versus 3 for incisional surgical site infections, and 2 versus 0 for primary bloodstream infection; the effect was consistent across all infections. The absolute risk reduction for acquiring a hospital-acquired infection was 9.0% (95% CI, 1.5–16.4%; p = 0.019). Incidences of adverse skin occurrences were similar (18.9% soap and water vs 18.6% chlorhexidine; p = 0.95).

Conclusions: Compared with soap and water, chlorhexidine bathing every other day decreased the risk of acquiring infections by 44.5% in surgical ICU patients.

Acute kidney injury following cardiac surgery: current understanding and future directions

O’Neal, J.B. et al. Critical Care. Published online: 4 July 2016

Acute kidney injury (AKI) complicates recovery from cardiac surgery in up to 30 % of patients, injures and impairs the function of the brain, lungs, and gut, and places patients at a 5-fold increased risk of death during hospitalization. Renal ischemia, reperfusion, inflammation, hemolysis, oxidative stress, cholesterol emboli, and toxins contribute to the development and progression of AKI.

Preventive strategies are limited, but current evidence supports maintenance of renal perfusion and intravascular volume while avoiding venous congestion, administration of balanced salt as opposed to high-chloride intravenous fluids, and the avoidance or limitation of cardiopulmonary bypass exposure. AKI that requires renal replacement therapy occurs in 2–5 % of patients following cardiac surgery and is associated with 50 % mortality. For those who recover from renal replacement therapy or even mild AKI, progression to chronic kidney disease in the ensuing months and years is more likely than for those who do not develop AKI.

Cardiac surgery continues to be a popular clinical model to evaluate novel therapeutics, off-label use of existing medications, and nonpharmacologic treatments for AKI, since cardiac surgery is fairly common, typically elective, provides a relatively standardized insult, and patients remain hospitalized and monitored following surgery. More efficient and time-sensitive methods to diagnose AKI are imperative to reduce this negative outcome. The discovery and validation of renal damage biomarkers should in time supplant creatinine-based criteria for the clinical diagnosis of AKI.

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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.

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Risk factors for delirium after on-pump cardiac surgery: a systematic review

Critical Care 2015, 19:346

As evidence-based effective treatment protocols for delirium after cardiac surgery are lacking, efforts should be made to identify risk factors for preventive interventions. Moreover, knowledge of these risk factors could increase validity of etiological studies in which adjustments need to be made for confounding variables. This review aims to systematically identify risk factors for delirium after cardiac surgery and to grade the evidence supporting these associations.

A prior registered systematic review was performed using EMBASE, CINAHL, MEDLINE and Cochrane from 1990 till January 2015 ( All studies evaluating patients for delirium after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) using either randomization or multivariable data analyses were included. Data was extracted and quality was scored in duplicate. Heterogeneity impaired pooling of the data; instead a semi-quantitative approach was used in which the strength of the evidence was graded based on the number of investigations, the quality of studies, and the consistency of the association reported across studies.

In total 1462 unique references were screened and 34 were included in this review, of which 16 (47 %) were graded as high quality. A strong level of evidence for an association with the occurrence of postoperative delirium was found for age, previous psychiatric conditions, cerebrovascular disease, pre-existent cognitive impairment, type of surgery, peri-operative blood product transfusion, administration of risperidone, postoperative atrial fibrillation and mechanical ventilation time. Postoperative oxygen saturation and renal insufficiency were supported by a moderate level of evidence, and there is no evidence that gender, education, CPB duration, pre-existent cardiac disease or heart failure are risk factors.

Of many potential risk factors for delirium after cardiac surgery, for only 11 there is a strong or moderate level of evidence. These risk factors should be taken in consideration when designing future delirium prevention strategies trials or when controlling for confounding in future etiological studies.

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