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      Unexplained mortality differences between septic shock trials: a systematic analysis of population characteristics and control-group mortality rates

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          Although the definition of septic shock has been standardized, some variation in mortality rates among clinical trials is expected. Insights into the sources of heterogeneity may influence the design and interpretation of septic shock studies. We set out to identify inclusion criteria and baseline characteristics associated with between-trial differences in control group mortality rates.


          We conducted a systematic review of RCTs published between 2006 and 2018 that included patients with septic shock. The percentage of variance in control-group mortality attributable to study heterogeneity rather than chance was measured by I 2. The association between control-group mortality and population characteristics was estimated using linear mixed models and a recursive partitioning algorithm.


          Sixty-five septic shock RCTs were included. Overall control-group mortality was 38.6%, with significant heterogeneity (I 2 = 93%, P < 0.0001) and a 95% prediction interval of 13.5–71.7%. The mean mortality rate did not differ between trials with different definitions of hypotension, infection or vasopressor or mechanical ventilation inclusion criteria. Population characteristics univariately associated with mortality rates were mean Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score (standardized regression coefficient (β) = 0.57, P = 0.007), mean serum creatinine (β = 0.48, P = 0.007), the proportion of patients on mechanical ventilation (β = 0.61, P < 0.001), and the proportion with vasopressors (β = 0.57, P = 0.002). Combinations of population characteristics selected with a linear model and recursive partitioning explained 41 and 42%, respectively, of the heterogeneity in mortality rates.


          Among 65 septic shock trials, there was a clinically relevant amount of heterogeneity in control group mortality rates which was explained only partly by differences in inclusion criteria and reported baseline characteristics.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1007/s00134-018-5134-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 60

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          Benchmarking the incidence and mortality of severe sepsis in the United States.

          In 1992, the first consensus definition of severe sepsis was published. Subsequent epidemiologic estimates were collected using administrative data, but ongoing discrepancies in the definition of severe sepsis produced large differences in estimates. We seek to describe the variations in incidence and mortality of severe sepsis in the United States using four methods of database abstraction. We hypothesized that different methodologies of capturing cases of severe sepsis would result in disparate estimates of incidence and mortality. Using a nationally representative sample, four previously published methods (Angus et al, Martin et al, Dombrovskiy et al, and Wang et al) were used to gather cases of severe sepsis over a 6-year period (2004-2009). In addition, the use of new International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 9th Edition (ICD-9), sepsis codes was compared with previous methods. Annual national incidence and in-hospital mortality of severe sepsis. The average annual incidence varied by as much as 3.5-fold depending on method used and ranged from 894,013 (300/100,000 population) to 3,110,630 (1,031/100,000) using the methods of Dombrovskiy et al and Wang et al, respectively. Average annual increase in the incidence of severe sepsis was similar (13.0% to 13.3%) across all methods. In-hospital mortality ranged from 14.7% to 29.9% using abstraction methods of Wang et al and Dombrovskiy et al. Using all methods, there was a decrease in in-hospital mortality across the 6-year period (35.2% to 25.6% [Dombrovskiy et al] and 17.8% to 12.1% [Wang et al]). Use of ICD-9 sepsis codes more than doubled over the 6-year period (158,722 - 489,632 [995.92 severe sepsis], 131,719 - 303,615 [785.52 septic shock]). There is substantial variability in incidence and mortality of severe sepsis depending on the method of database abstraction used. A uniform, consistent method is needed for use in national registries to facilitate accurate assessment of clinical interventions and outcome comparisons between hospitals and regions.
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            Norepinephrine plus dobutamine versus epinephrine alone for management of septic shock: a randomised trial.

            International guidelines for management of septic shock recommend that dopamine or norepinephrine are preferable to epinephrine. However, no large comparative trial has yet been done. We aimed to compare the efficacy and safety of norepinephrine plus dobutamine (whenever needed) with those of epinephrine alone in septic shock. This prospective, multicentre, randomised, double-blind study was done in 330 patients with septic shock admitted to one of 19 participating intensive care units in France. Participants were assigned to receive epinephrine (n=161) or norepinephrine plus dobutamine (n=169), which were titrated to maintain mean blood pressure at 70 mm Hg or more. The primary outcome was 28-day all-cause mortality. Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00148278. There were no patients lost to follow-up; one patient withdrew consent after 3 days. At day 28, there were 64 (40%) deaths in the epinephrine group and 58 (34%) deaths in the norepinephrine plus dobutamine group (p=0.31; relative risk 0.86, 95% CI 0.65-1.14). There was no significant difference between the two groups in mortality rates at discharge from intensive care (75 [47%] deaths vs 75 [44%] deaths, p=0.69), at hospital discharge (84 [52%] vs 82 [49%], p=0.51), and by day 90 (84 [52%] vs 85 [50%], p=0.73), time to haemodynamic success (log-rank p=0.67), time to vasopressor withdrawal (log-rank p=0.09), and time course of SOFA score. Rates of serious adverse events were also similar. There is no evidence for a difference in efficacy and safety between epinephrine alone and norepinephrine plus dobutamine for the management of septic shock.
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              Early use of polymyxin B hemoperfusion in patients with septic shock due to peritonitis: a multicenter randomized control trial

              Purpose To test whether the polymyxin B hemoperfusion (PMX HP) fiber column reduces mortality and organ failure in peritonitis-induced septic shock (SS) from abdominal infections. Method Prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial in 18 French intensive care units from October 2010 to March 2013, enrolling 243 patients with SS within 12 h after emergency surgery for peritonitis related to organ perforation. The PMX HP group received conventional therapy plus two sessions of PMX HP. Primary outcome was mortality on day 28; secondary outcomes were mortality on day 90 and a reduction in the severity of organ failures based on Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores. Results Primary outcome: day 28 mortality in the PMX HP group (n = 119) was 27.7 versus 19.5 % in the conventional group (n = 113), p = 0.14 (OR 1.5872, 95 % CI 0.8583–2.935). Secondary endpoints: mortality rate at day 90 was 33.6 % in PMX-HP versus 24 % in conventional groups, p = 0.10 (OR 1.6128, 95 % CI 0.9067–2.8685); reduction in SOFA score from day 0 to day 7 was −5 (−11 to 6) in PMX-HP versus −5 (−11 to 9), p = 0.78. Comparable results were observed in the predefined subgroups (presence of comorbidity; adequacy of surgery, <2 sessions of hemoperfusion) and for SOFA reduction from day 0 to day 3. Conclusion This multicenter randomized controlled study demonstrated a non-significant increase in mortality and no improvement in organ failure with PMX HP treatment compared to conventional treatment of peritonitis-induced SS. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-015-3751-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

                Author and article information

                Intensive Care Med
                Intensive Care Med
                Intensive Care Medicine
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                15 March 2018
                15 March 2018
                : 44
                : 3
                : 311-322
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0435 165X, GRID grid.16872.3a, Department of Intensive Care, , VU University Medical Center, ; De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0435 165X, GRID grid.16872.3a, Department of Anesthesiology, , VU University Medical Center, ; Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0472 0160, GRID grid.411149.8, Unité de Biostatistique et de Recherche Clinique, , Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen, ; Caen, France
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2186 4076, GRID grid.412043.0, EA2656 Groupe de Recherche sur l’Adaptation Microbienne (GRAM 2.0), , Université Caen Normandie, ; Caen, France
                © The Author(s) 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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