Category Archives: JCCM 2021, Vol. 7, Issue 3

Hypothalamic-pituitary axis disorder – “the puppet master” of multiple organ dysfunction in brain-dead patients

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0029

One of the most revolutionary discoveries of modern medicine was organ transplantation, as it brought hope and healing in cases that seemed incurable. Best outcomes in organ transplantation are related to a rigorous tissue typing and an appropriate immunosuppressant therapy that allowed a longer survival rate for recipients [1]. The management of the potential brain-dead donor is a complex one that involves several well-defined stages: early identification of potential donors, brain death determination, maintaining vital functions, and graft transplantation.
Brain death determination is synonymous with irreversible anatomical and functional injury to the entire brain and brainstem. This process involves a major alteration of the hemodynamic and hormonal homeostasis. Hypothalamic irreversible injury is followed by a profound normothermia dysregulation. The aggressive inflammatory response after brain death occurrence is responsible for capillary leakage and refractory hypotension [2]. Clinical diagnostic tests that assess brain death include brain stem areflexia, apnea, and cerebral unresponsiveness, linked with a known, irreversible cause of coma [3].[More]

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The Importance of Iron Administration in Correcting Anaemia after Major Surgery

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0028

Introduction: Postoperative anaemia can affect more than 90% of patients undergoing major surgeries. Patients develop an absolute iron deficiency in the face of significant blood loss or preoperative anaemia and major surgery. Studies have shown the negative impact of these factors on transfusion requirements, infections, increased hospitalisation and long-term morbidities.
Aim of the study: The research was performed to determine the correlation between intravenous iron administration in the postoperative period and improved haemoglobin correction trend.
Material and methods: A prospective study was conducted to screen and treat iron deficiency in patients undergoing major surgery associated with significant bleeding. For iron deficiency anaemia screening, in the postoperative period, the following bioumoral parameters were assessed: haemoglobin, serum iron, transferrin saturation (TSAT), and ferritin, direct serum total iron-binding capacity (dTIBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH). In addition, serum glucose, fibrinogen, urea, creatinine and lactate values were also collected.
Results: Twenty-one patients undergoing major surgeries (52,38% were emergency and 47,61% elective interventions) were included in the study. Iron deficiency, as defined by ferritin 100-300 μg/L along with transferrin saturation (TSAT) < 20 %, mean corpuscular volume (MVC) < 92 fL, mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) < 33 g/dL, serum iron < 10 μmol/L and direct serum total iron-binding capacity (dTIBC) > 36 μmol/L, was identified in all cases. To correct the deficit and optimise the haematological status, all patients received intravenous ferric carboxymaltose (500-1000 mg, single dose). Using Quadratic statistical analysis, the trend of haemoglobin correction was found to be a favourable one.
Conclusion: The administration of intravenous ferric carboxymaltose in the postoperative period showed the beneficial effect of this type of intervention on the haemoglobin correction trend in these groups of patients.

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Analgosedation: The use of Fentanyl Compared to Hydromorphone

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0026

Background: The 2018 Society of Critical Care Medicine guidelines on the “Prevention and Management of Pain, Agitation/Sedation, Delirium, Immobility, and Sleep Disruption in Adult Patients in the ICU” advocate for protocol-based analgosedation practices. There are limited data available to guide which analgesic to use. This study compares outcomes in patients who received continuous infusions of fentanyl or hydromorphone as sedative agents in the intensive care setting.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study evaluated patients admitted into the medical intensive care unit, the surgical intensive care unit, and the cardiac intensive care unit from April 1, 2017, to August 1, 2018, who were placed on continuous analgesics. Patients were divided according to receipt of fentanyl or hydromorphone as a continuous infusion as a sedative agent. The primary endpoints were ICU length of stay and time on mechanical ventilation.
Results: A total of 177 patients were included in the study; 103 received fentanyl as a continuous infusion, and 74 received hydromorphone as a continuous infusion. Baseline characteristics were similar between groups. Patients in the hydromorphone group had deeper sedation targets. Median ICU length of stay was eight days in the fentanyl group compared to seven days in the hydromorphone group (p = 0.11) and median time on mechanical ventilation was 146.47 hours in the fentanyl group and 122.33 hours in the hydromorphone group (p = 0.31). There were no statistically significant differences in the primary endpoints of ICU length of stay and time on mechanical ventilation between fentanyl and hydromorphone for analgosedation purposes.
Conclusion: No statistically significant differences were found in the primary endpoints studied. Patients in the hydromorphone group required more tracheostomies, restraints, and were more likely to have a higher proportion of Critical Care Pain Observation Tool (CPOT) scores > 2.

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Impact of the Severity of Liver Injury in COVID-19 Patients Admitted to an Intensive Care Unit During the SARS-CoV2 Pandemic Outbreak

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0021

Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) identified a novel coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, as a pneumonia causing pathogen. Epidemiological data in Romania show more than 450.000 confirmed patients, with a constant number of approximately 10% admission in intensive care unit.
Method: A retrospective, observational study was conducted from 1st March to 30th October 2020, comprising 657 patients, confirmed as having COVID-19, and who had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the Mures County Clinical Hospital, Tîrgu Mures, Romania, which had been designated as a support hospital during the pandemic. Patients who presented at admission or developed abnormal liver function tests in the first seven days of admission, were included in the study; patients with pre-existing liver disease, were excluded.
Results: The mean (SD) age of patients included in the study was 59.41 (14.66) years with a male: female ratio of 1.51:1. Survivor status, defined as patients discharged from the intensive care unit, was significantly associated with parameters such as age, leukocyte count, albumin level, glycaemia level (p<0.05 for all parameters.)
Conclusions: Liver injury expressed through liver function tests cannot solely constitute a prognostic factor for COVID-19 patients, but its presence in critically ill patients should be further investigated and included in future guideline protocols.

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Accuracy of Diagnostic Tests

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0022

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, design, development, validation, verification and implementation of diagnostic tests were actively addressed by a large number of diagnostic test manufacturers. This paper deals with the biases and sources of variation which influence the accuracy of diagnostic tests, including calculating and interpreting test characteristics, defining what is meant by test accuracy, understanding the basic study design for evaluating test accuracy, understanding the meaning of Sensitivity, Specificity, Positive Predictive Value and Negative Predictive Value, and evaluating them numerically, and the ROC curve (or Receiver Operating Characteristic ) and the Area under the Curve (AUC).

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Critical Care Management of Decompensated Right Heart Failure in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Patients – An Ongoing Approach

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0020

Despite substantial advancements in diagnosis and specific medical therapy in pulmonary arterial hypertension patients’ management, this condition continues to represent a major cause of mortality worldwide. In pulmonary arterial hypertension, the continuous increase of pulmonary vascular resistance and rapid development of right heart failure determine a poor prognosis. Against targeted therapy, patients inexorable deteriorate over time. Pulmonary arterial hypertension patients with acute right heart failure who need intensive care unit admission present a complexity of the disease pathophysiology. Intensive care management challenges are multifaceted. Awareness of algorithms of right-sided heart failure monitoring in intensive care units, targeted pulmonary hypertension therapies, and recognition of precipitating factors, hemodynamic instability and progressive multisystem organ failure requires a multidisciplinary pulmonary hypertension team. This paper summarizes the management strategies of acute right-sided heart failure in pulmonary arterial hypertension adult cases based on recently available data.

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Critical Care Workers Have Lower Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG Compared with Non-patient Facing Staff in First Wave of COVID19

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0018

Introduction: In early 2020, at first surge of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many health care workers (HCW) were re-deployed to critical care environments to support intensive care teams looking after patients with severe COVID-19. There was considerable anxiety of increased risk of COVID-19 for these staff. To determine whether critical care HCW were at increased risk of hospital acquired infection, we explored the relationship between workplace, patient facing role and evidence of immune exposure to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) within a quaternary hospital providing a regional critical care response. Routine viral surveillance was not available at this time.
Methods: We screened over 500 HCW (25% of the total workforce) for history of clinical symptoms of possible COVID19, assigning a symptom severity score, and quantified SARS-CoV-2 serum antibodies as evidence of immune exposure to the virus.
Results: Whilst 45% of the cohort reported symptoms that they consider may have represented COVID-19, 14% had evidence of immune exposure. Staffs in patient facing critical care roles were least likely to be seropositive (9%) and staff working in non-patient facing roles most likely to be seropositive (22%). Anosmia and fever were the most discriminating symptoms for seropositive status. Older males presented with more severe symptoms. Of the 12 staff screened positive by nasal swab (10 symptomatic), 3 showed no evidence of seroconversion in convalescence.
Conclusions: Patient facing staff working in critical care do not appear to be at increased risk of hospital acquired infection however the risk of nosocomial infection from non-patient facing staff may be more significant than previous recognised. Most symptoms ascribed to possible COVID-19 were found to have no evidence of immune exposure however seroprevalence may underrepresent infection frequency. Older male staff were at the greatest risk of more severe symptoms.

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Pneumocephalus Following an Accidental Dural Puncture, Treated Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. A Case Report

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0017

Introduction: Neuraxial techniques, including epidural anaesthesia, are often used for perioperative pain control and are generally safe. However, both transient, mild and even severe, life-threatening neurologic complications can occur.
Case presentation: A seventy-eight-year-old man was admitted to the hospital for a radical nephrectomy plus transurethral resection due to kidney and bladder cancer. During the epidural exploration, an accidental dural puncture was noted. This was followed by the patient complaining of an intense headache. The epidural catheter was placed in a different location, and surgery was performed uneventfully. The patient presented with confusion, agitation, vertical nystagmus, vision loss, and paraparesis about two hours later. The epidural levobupivacaine and morphine infusion were stopped, followed by motor block resolution. A computerized head-tomography scan showed extra-axial multiple air spots involving the frontal and temporal lobes. Emergent hyperbaric oxygen therapy was commenced. After a single session, there was complete resolution of all symptoms and a marked reduction in the number and volume of the extra-axial air visible on the CT scan.
Conclusions: Although rare, pneumocephalus is a well-recognized complication of a dural puncture. Its rapid recognition in a patient with new-onset neurological symptoms and early treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows rapid clinical and imaging resolution and an improved prognosis.

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Candida spp. in Lower Respiratory Tract Secretions – A Ten Years Retrospective Study

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2021-0016

Introduction: Lower respiratory tract secretions (LRTS) like sputum and tracheal aspirates are frequently sent to the microbiology laboratory from patients with various respiratory pathologies. Improper collection techniques can lead to false-positive results, resulting in improper therapy.
Aim of the study: To determine the percentage of contaminated samples sent to the microbiology laboratory, to establish the prevalence of Candida spp. in non-contaminated samples and therefore, the presence of Candida spp. originating in lower respiratory tract infections.
Material and Methods: A 10-year data survey was conducted to assess the differences in Candida prevalence from contaminated versus non-contaminated samples, assessed and categorised by Bartlett grading system, and to emphasise the importance of quality control for potentially contaminated samples. The data were analysed according to gender, age, referring departments, and the species of Candida. For the statistical analysis, Kruskal-Wallis and Fisher tests were used, and the alpha value was set for 0.5.
Results: The prevalence of Candida spp. in all analysed samples was 31.60%. After excluding the contaminated samples, the actual prevalence was 27.66%. Of all sputum samples, 31.6% were contaminated. Patients aged more than 40 years old were more prone to provide contaminated sputum samples. C. albicans is more prevalent in non-contaminated sputum samples. In both sputum and tracheal aspirates, the chances of identifying a single species are higher than the chances of identifying multiple species.
Conclusions: The study emphasises the importance of assessing the quality of sputum samples because of the high number of improperly collected samples sent to the microbiology laboratory.

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