Systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria in defining severe sepsis. (Emrath)

Kaukonen KM, Bailey M, Pilcher D, et al. Systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria in defining severe sepsis. N Engl J Med. 2015 Apr 23;372(17):1629-38.

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BACKGROUND: The consensus definition of severe sepsis requires suspected or proven infection, organ failure, and signs that meet two or more criteria for the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). We aimed to test the sensitivity, face validity, and construct validity of this approach.

METHODS: We studied data from patients from 172 intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand from 2000 through 2013. We identified patients with infection and organ failure and categorized them according to whether they had signs meeting two or more SIRS criteria (SIRS-positive severe sepsis) or less than two SIRS criteria (SIRS-negative severe sepsis). We compared their characteristics and outcomes and assessed them for the presence of a step increase in the risk of death at a threshold of two SIRS criteria.

RESULTS: Of 1,171,797 patients, a total of 109,663 had infection and organ failure. Among these, 96,385 patients (87.9%) had SIRS-positive severe sepsis and 13,278 (12.1%) had SIRS-negative severe sepsis. Over a period of 14 years, these groups had similar characteristics and changes in mortality (SIRS-positive group: from 36.1% [829 of 2296 patients] to 18.3% [2037 of 11,119], P<0.001; SIRS-negative group: from 27.7% [100 of 361] to 9.3% [122 of 1315], P<0.001). Moreover, this pattern remained similar after adjustment for baseline characteristics (odds ratio in the SIRS-positive group, 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96 to 0.97; odds ratio in the SIRS-negative group, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94 to 0.98; P=0.12 for between-group difference). In the adjusted analysis, mortality increased linearly with each additional SIRS criterion (odds ratio for each additional criterion, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.15; P<0.001) without any transitional increase in risk at a threshold of two SIRS criteria.

CONCLUSIONS: The need for two or more SIRS criteria to define severe sepsis excluded one in eight otherwise similar patients with infection, organ failure, and substantial mortality and failed to define a transition point in the risk of death. (Funded by the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre.).

Very early administration of progesterone for acute traumatic brain injury. (Singh)

Wright DW, Yeatts SD, Silbergleit R, et al. Very early administration of progesterone for acute traumatic brain injury. N Engl J Med. 2014 Dec 25;371(26):2457-66.

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BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Progesterone has been shown to improve neurologic outcome in multiple experimental models and two early-phase trials involving patients with TBI.

METHODS: We conducted a double-blind, multicenter clinical trial in which patients with severe, moderate-to-severe, or moderate acute TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale score of 4 to 12, on a scale from 3 to 15, with lower scores indicating a lower level of consciousness) were randomly assigned to intravenous progesterone or placebo, with the study treatment initiated within 4 hours after injury and administered for a total of 96 hours. Efficacy was defined as an increase of 10 percentage points in the proportion of patients with a favorable outcome, as determined with the use of the stratified dichotomy of the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale score at 6 months after injury. Secondary outcomes included mortality and the Disability Rating Scale score.

RESULTS: A total of 882 of the planned sample of 1140 patients underwent randomization before the trial was stopped for futility with respect to the primary outcome. The study groups were similar with regard to baseline characteristics; the median age of the patients was 35 years, 73.7% were men, 15.2% were black, and the mean Injury Severity Score was 24.4 (on a scale from 0 to 75, with higher scores indicating greater severity). The most frequent mechanism of injury was a motor vehicle accident. There was no significant difference between the progesterone group and the placebo group in the proportion of patients with a favorable outcome (relative benefit of progesterone, 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85 to 1.06; P=0.35). Phlebitis or thrombophlebitis was more frequent in the progesterone group than in the placebo group (relative risk, 3.03; CI, 1.96 to 4.66). There were no significant differences in the other prespecified safety outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: This clinical trial did not show a benefit of progesterone over placebo in the improvement of outcomes in patients with acute TBI. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and others; PROTECT III number, NCT00822900.).

Efficacy of remission-induction regimens for ANCA-associated vasculitis. (Kamat)

N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 1;369(5):417-27. PMID: 23902481

Comment in: N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 1;369(5):468-9.

BACKGROUND: The 18-month efficacy of a single course of rituximab as compared with conventional immunosuppression with cyclophosphamide followed by azathioprine in patients with severe (organ-threatening) antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis is unknown.

METHODS: In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, noninferiority trial, we compared rituximab (375 mg per square meter of body-surface area administered once a week for 4 weeks) followed by placebo with cyclophosphamide administered for 3 to 6 months followed by azathioprine for 12 to 15 months. The primary outcome measure was complete remission of disease by 6 months, with the remission maintained through 18 months.

RESULTS: A total of 197 patients were enrolled. As reported previously, 64% of the patients in the rituximab group, as compared with 53% of the patients in the cyclophosphamide-azathioprine group, had a complete remission by 6 months. At 12 and 18 months, 48% and 39%, respectively, of the patients in the rituximab group had maintained the complete remissions, as compared with 39% and 33%, respectively, in the comparison group. Rituximab met the prespecified criteria for noninferiority (P<0.001, with a noninferiority margin of 20%). There was no significant difference between the groups in any efficacy measure, including the duration of complete remission and the frequency or severity of relapses. Among the 101 patients who had relapsing disease at baseline, rituximab was superior to conventional immunosuppression at 6 months (P=0.01) and at 12 months (P=0.009) but not at 18 months (P=0.06), at which time most patients in the rituximab group had reconstituted B cells. There was no significant between-group difference in adverse events.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with severe ANCA-associated vasculitis, a single course of rituximab was as effective as continuous conventional immunosuppressive therapy for the induction and maintenance of remissions over the course of 18 months. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; RAVE number, NCT00104299.)

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A randomized trial of adenotonsillectomy for childhood sleep apnea. (Kamat)

N Engl J Med. 2013 Jun 20;368(25):2366-76. PMID: 23692173

BACKGROUND: Adenotonsillectomy is commonly performed in children with the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, yet its usefulness in reducing symptoms and improving cognition, behavior, quality of life, and polysomnographic findings has not been rigorously evaluated. We hypothesized that, in children with the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome without prolonged oxyhemoglobin desaturation, early adenotonsillectomy, as compared with watchful waiting with supportive care, would result in improved outcomes.

METHODS: We randomly assigned 464 children, 5 to 9 years of age, with the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome to early adenotonsillectomy or a strategy of watchful waiting. Polysomnographic, cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes were assessed at baseline and at 7 months.

RESULTS: The average baseline value for the primary outcome, the attention and executive-function score on the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment (with scores ranging from 50 to 150 and higher scores indicating better functioning), was close to the population mean of 100, and the change from baseline to follow-up did not differ significantly according to study group (mean [±SD] improvement, 7.1±13.9 in the early-adenotonsillectomy group and 5.1±13.4 in the watchful-waiting group; P=0.16). In contrast, there were significantly greater improvements in behavioral, quality-of-life, and polysomnographic findings and significantly greater reduction in symptoms in the early-adenotonsillectomy group than in the watchful-waiting group. Normalization of polysomnographic findings was observed in a larger proportion of children in the early-adenotonsillectomy group than in the watchful-waiting group (79% vs. 46%).

CONCLUSIONS: As compared with a strategy of watchful waiting, surgical treatment for the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in school-age children did not significantly improve attention or executive function as measured by neuropsychological testing but did reduce symptoms and improve secondary outcomes of behavior, quality of life, and polysomnographic findings, thus providing evidence of beneficial effects of early adenotonsillectomy. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; CHAT number, NCT00560859.).

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Racemic adrenaline and inhalation strategies in acute bronchiolitis. (Kamat)

N Engl J Med. 2013 Jun 13;368(24):2286-93. PMID: 23758233

BACKGROUND: Acute bronchiolitis in infants frequently results in hospitalization, but there is no established consensus on inhalation therapy–either the type of medication or the frequency of administration–that may be of value. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of inhaled racemic adrenaline as compared with inhaled saline and the strategy for frequency of inhalation (on demand vs. fixed schedule) in infants hospitalized with acute bronchiolitis.

METHODS: In this eight-center, randomized, double-blind trial with a 2-by-2 factorial design, we compared inhaled racemic adrenaline with inhaled saline and on-demand inhalation with fixed-schedule inhalation (up to every 2 hours) in infants (<12 months of age) with moderate-to-severe acute bronchiolitis. An overall clinical score of 4 or higher (on a scale of 0 to 10, with higher scores indicating more severe illness) was required for study inclusion. Any use of oxygen therapy, nasogastric-tube feeding, or ventilatory support was recorded. The primary outcome was the length of the hospital stay, with analyses conducted according to the intention-to-treat principle.

RESULTS: The mean age of the 404 infants included in the study was 4.2 months, and 59.4% were boys. Length of stay, use of oxygen supplementation, nasogastric-tube feeding, ventilatory support, and relative improvement in the clinical score from baseline (preinhalation) were similar in the infants treated with inhaled racemic adrenaline and those treated with inhaled saline (P>0.1 for all comparisons). On-demand inhalation, as compared with fixed-schedule inhalation, was associated with a significantly shorter estimated mean length of stay–47.6 hours (95% confidence interval [CI], 30.6 to 64.6) versus 61.3 hours (95% CI, 45.4 to 77.2; P=0.01) – as well as less use of oxygen supplementation (in 38.3% of infants vs. 48.7%, P=0.04), less use of ventilatory support (in 4.0% vs. 10.8%, P=0.01), and fewer inhalation treatments (12.0 vs. 17.0, P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: In the treatment of acute bronchiolitis in infants, inhaled racemic adrenaline is not more effective than inhaled saline. However, the strategy of inhalation on demand appears to be superior to that of inhalation on a fixed schedule. (Funded by Medicines for Children; number, NCT00817466; EudraCT number, 2009-012667-34.).

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Targeted versus universal decolonization to prevent ICU infection. (Kamat)

N Engl J Med. 2013 Jun 13;368(24):2255-65. PMID: 23718152

BACKGROUND: Both targeted decolonization and universal decolonization of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) are candidate strategies to prevent health care-associated infections, particularly those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

METHODS: We conducted a pragmatic, cluster-randomized trial. Hospitals were randomly assigned to one of three strategies, with all adult ICUs in a given hospital assigned to the same strategy. Group 1 implemented MRSA screening and isolation; group 2, targeted decolonization (i.e., screening, isolation, and decolonization of MRSA carriers); and group 3, universal decolonization (i.e., no screening, and decolonization of all patients). Proportional-hazards models were used to assess differences in infection reductions across the study groups, with clustering according to hospital.

RESULTS: A total of 43 hospitals (including 74 ICUs and 74,256 patients during the intervention period) underwent randomization. In the intervention period versus the baseline period, modeled hazard ratios for MRSA clinical isolates were 0.92 for screening and isolation (crude rate, 3.2 vs. 3.4 isolates per 1000 days), 0.75 for targeted decolonization (3.2 vs. 4.3 isolates per 1000 days), and 0.63 for universal decolonization(2.1 vs. 3.4 isolates per 1000 days) (P=0.01 for test of all groups being equal). In the intervention versus baseline periods, hazard ratios for bloodstream infection with any pathogen in the three groups were 0.99 (crude rate, 4.1 vs. 4.2 infections per 1000 days), 0.78 (3.7 vs. 4.8 infections per 1000 days), and 0.56 (3.6 vs. 6.1 infections per 1000 days), respectively (P<0.001 for test of all groups being equal). Universal decolonization resulted in a significantly greater reduction in the rate of all bloodstream infections than either targeted decolonization or screening and isolation. One bloodstream infection was prevented per 54 patients who underwent decolonization. The reductions in rates of MRSA bloodstream infection were similar to those of all bloodstream infections, but the difference was not significant. Adverse events, which occurred in 7 patients, were mild and related to chlorhexidine.

CONCLUSIONS: In routine ICU practice, universal decolonization was more effective than targeted decolonization or screening and isolation in reducing rates of MRSA clinical isolates and bloodstream infection from any pathogen. (Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; REDUCE MRSA number, NCT00980980).

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