The aim is to demonstrate that ICU physicians should play a pivotal role in developing regional anesthesia techniques that are underused in critically ill patients despite the proven facts in perioperative and long-term pain, organ dysfunction, and postsurgery patient health-related quality of life improvement | Current Opinion in Critical Care
Regional anesthesia and/or analgesia strategies in ICU reduce the surgical and trauma–stress response in surgical patients as well as complications incidence. Recent studies suggested that surgical/trauma ICU patients receive opioid–hypnotics continuous infusions to prevent pain and agitation that could increase the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder and chronic neuropathic pain symptoms, and chronic opioid use. Regional anesthesia use decrease the use of intravenous opioids and the ectopic activity of injured small fibers limiting those phenomena. In Cochrane reviews and prospective randomized trials in major surgery patients, regional anesthesia accelerates the return of the gastrointestinal transit and rehabilitation, decreases postoperative pain and opioids use, reduces ICU/hospital stay, improves pulmonary outcomes, including long period of mechanical ventilation and early extubation, reduces overall adverse cardiac events, and reduces ICU admissions when compared with general anesthesia and intravenous opiates alone. The reduction of long-term mortality has been reported in major vascular or orthopedic surgeries.
Promoting regional anesthesia/analgesia in ICU surgical/trauma patients could undoubtedly limit the risk of complications, ICU/hospital stay, and improve patient’s outcome. The use of regional anesthesia permits a high doses opioid use limitation which is mandatory and should be considered as feasible and well tolerated in ICU.
Critical care publications have advised that a restrictive transfusion strategy is non-inferior, and possibly superior, to a liberal strategy for stable, non-bleeding critically ill patients. However, translation into clinical practice has been slow. These authors describe the degree of adherence to UK best practice guidelines in a regional network of nine intensive care units in Wessex.
Methods and results
All transfusions given during a 2-month period were included (n = 444). Those given for active bleeding or within 24 hours of major surgery, trauma or gastrointestinal bleeding were excluded (n = 148). The median (interquartile range [range]) haemoglobin concentration before transfusion was 73 (68–77 [53–106]) g/L, with only 34% of transfusion episodes using a transfusion threshold of <70 g/L. In a subgroup analysis that did not study patients with a history of cardiac disease (n = 42), haemoglobin concentration before transfusion was 72 (68–77 [50–98]) g/L, with only 36% of transfusion episodes using a threshold of < 70 g/L. Most blood transfusions given to critically ill patients who were not bleeding in this audit used a haemoglobin threshold >70 g/L.
The authors conclude that it is unclear why recommendations on transfusion triggers have not translated into clinical practice. With a clear national drive to decrease usage of blood products and clear evidence that a threshold of 70 g/L is non-inferior, the authors find it surprising that a scarce and potentially dangerous resource is still being overused within critical care. They suggest that simple solutions such as electronic patient records that force pause for thought before blood transfusion, or prescriptions that only allow administration of a single unit in non-emergency circumstances, may help to reduce the incidence of unnecessary blood transfusions.
Kemp, H.I. et al. Anaesthesia. Published online: 19 February 2017
Pain is a common and distressing symptom experienced by intensive care patients. Assessing pain in this environment is challenging, and published guidelines have been inconsistently implemented. The Pain Assessment in INTensive care (PAINT) study aimed to evaluate the frequency and type of physician pain assessments with respect to published guidelines.
The likelihood of receiving a physician pain assessment was affected by the following factors: the number of nursing assessments performed; whether the patient was admitted as a surgical patient; the presence of tracheal tube or tracheostomy; and the length of stay in ICU. Physician-documented pain assessments in the majority of participating ICUs were infrequent and did not utilise recommended behavioural pain assessment tools. Further research to identify factors influencing physician pain assessment behaviour in ICU, such as human factors or cultural attitudes, is urgently needed.
Martin-Loeches, I. et al. European Journal of Anaesthesiology. Published online: 30 January 2017
Antimicrobial treatment is the cornerstone of infection treatment, and the selection of appropriate antibiotic treatment for critically ill patients is challenging. Clinicians working with critically ill patients usually feel a greater obligation towards their patient than towards maintenance of the delicate ecological balance of prevalent microbiological threats and their resistance patterns. Although antibiotic overtreatment is a frequent phenomenon, patient outcomes need not be compromised when antibiotic treatment is driven by informed decision-making.
At the 2016 Euro Anaesthesia Conference (London, UK), the European Society of Anaesthesia Intensive Care Scientific Subcommittee convened an expert panel on antibiotic therapy. This article summarises the main conclusions of the panel, namely the principles of antibiotic therapy that all physicians working with critically ill patients must know.
Lewis, J.E. & Pilcher, D.V. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine. Published online: 19 January 2017
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a significant cause of hospitalization, morbidity and mortality and frequently triggers referral to critical care services. Critically ill patients are also at increased risk of developing venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) and acute PE.
Critical care clinicians should be confident in their approach to the patient with suspected and diagnosed PE. Furthermore, the co-morbid conditions in this patient group may present additional challenges both in diagnosis (e.g. safe access to radiology) and management (e.g. absolute and relative contraindications to anticoagulation/thrombolysis in critically ill patients).
This brief review summarizes the contemporary evidence base regarding both diagnosis and treatment strategies and draws upon this to suggest a simple algorithm for investigation, risk stratification and management, particularly tailored to patients within a critical care setting.
O’Driscoll, A. & White, E. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine. Published online: November 26 2016
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.