Physiological Changes in the Critically Ill Patient with Sepsis.

Summary of "Physiological Changes in the Critically Ill Patient with Sepsis."

Intensive care medicine deals with the critically ill; these patients usually have multiple organ failure, and complex medical conditions. The mortality in Australia and New Zealand among this population is approximately 16.1%, with approximately 24.2% having existing co-morbidities, and 23.4% of these patients experiencing sepsis or septic shock. Sepsis is a clinical syndrome that traditionally was regarded as a physiological maladaptive response to a foreign pathogen and ranges in disease severity from simple sepsis to septic shock, a life threatening condition, associated with multiple organ failure. Sepsis has profound effects on all systems of the body, and most notably the cardiovascular, renal and hepatic systems. There has been much research into the septic critically ill patient and recent developments in basic pharmacology and physiology has yielded results applicable to clinical practice. Sepsis may induce a state of increased cardiac output, which has significant effects on drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. This increased cardiac output increases both renal and hepatic blood flow, and alters rates of antibiotic metabolism, and excretion. There are also alterations in the fluid compartments of the septic critically ill, that results in an altered volume of distribution, and ultimately decreased antibiotic concentrations at their site of action. This article will examine and review in detail the septic critically ill patient, and the effects that sepsis has on physiology and the resulting altered antibiotic pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Current knowledge suggests that the medical prescriber should be weary of antibiotic dosing in the septic critically ill, and consider alternative dosing regimes that are individualized to the patient in order to maximize efficacy.


Staff Specialist, Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital, Herston, Brisbane, 4029, Queensland, Australia.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Current pharmaceutical biotechnology
ISSN: 1873-4316


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome with a proven or suspected infectious etiology. When sepsis is associated with organ dysfunction distant from the site of infection, it is called severe sepsis. When sepsis is accompanied by HYPOTENSION despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called SEPTIC SHOCK.

Health care provided to a critically ill patient during a medical emergency or crisis.

A mechanism of communication with a physiological system for homeostasis, adaptation, etc. Physiological feedback is mediated through extensive feedback mechanisms that use physiological cues as feedback loop signals to control other systems.

A systemic inflammatory response to a variety of clinical insults, characterized by two or more of the following conditions: (1) fever >38 degrees C or HYPOTHERMIA <36 degrees C; (2) TACHYCARDIA >90 beat/minute; (3) tachypnea >24 breaths/minute; (4) LEUKOCYTOSIS >12,000 cells/cubic mm or 10% immature forms. While usually related to infection, SIRS can also be associated with noninfectious insults such as TRAUMA; BURNS; or PANCREATITIS. If infection is involved, a patient with SIRS is said to have SEPSIS.

The right of the patient or the patient's representative to make decisions with regard to the patient's dying.

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