Fluid Stop Points! More POCUS goodness from Korbin Haycock. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

I am really enjoying this exchange, and I think it is in the true spirit of #FOAMed to foster these discussions, as we have the opportunity to combine and fine tune our understanding of a topic from several really bright people’s view and experience. 


Jon-Emile, excellent points and insight. I should clarify a couple of my comments. To be specific, by “renal vein flow” I am referring to intra-renal venous flow. Apologies for my imprecision! Thanks for pointing that out.

Yes, a lot of these renal and portal Doppler patterns are surrogates of CVP. But I don’t think any of us would use CVP in isolation these days to make any decision what-so-ever on whether fluids were indicated in our patient.

Also, to clarify, I am not using intra-renal venous flow or renal resistive index as measures of non-fluid responsiveness. Rather, I use these measures as a stop point for attempting to solve the patient’s hemodynamic dysfunction with crystalloid regardless of whether or not my straight leg test tells me the patient is still fluid responsive.

And that is a key re-iteration to me. It is important to set these stop points and not only look at whether the cardiac output can be maximized. This has been tried. And failed. Let’s remember that sepsis is not inherently a disease of low flow. It isn’t cardiogenic or hypovolemic shock at the core.

My rationale for the strategy of using intra-renal Doppler, E/e’, and Lung US (now, I can include portal vein pulsatility) as a stop point for IVF administration is that I think the patient is best served to avoid iatrogenic edema of the upstream organs, primarily the lungs and the kidneys. These are the two organs (maybe you could put the endothelium in this category as well–glycocalyx being a whole other can of worms!) most easily damaged by the chase for optimizing every bit of fluid responsiveness. We have good evidence that getting wet lungs and swollen, congested kidneys is a bad thing, and we have these tools to hopefully warn us when we are pushing things too far.

Absolutely. And the whole glycocalyx is something to keep in mind, even if only to me mindful to disrupt it as little as possible.

Of course renal resistive index, intra-renal venous flow, portal vein pulsativity, and whatever else you like will have limitations and confounders. As long as you understand what can cause abnormalities with these tools, you can make an educated guess as to what’s going on. If our creatinine is off and our RRI is high, but intra-renal venous flow and portal vein flow is normal, perhaps the RRI is caused by something other than renal congestion, like ATN. If the portal vein is pulsatile, but the Doppler patterns of the hepatic vein, kidney and the heart look ok, maybe something else is wrong with the liver. But, if all our modalities are in agreement and pointing to congestion, we should perhaps believe that it’s congestion and stop the fluids. 

That is an awesome approach to integrating RRI. I’ve been toying with it for the last couple of days, and much thanks to Korbin, I think that the limitations of RRI can be overcome by using the rest of our clinical and POCUS data.

It isn’t a hard technique, though in some patients getting a good signal can be tricky.

I think that the kidney, being an encapsulated organ, and the fact that much of our crystalloid ends up as interstitial edema, the kidney will develop sub-optimal flow patterns before CVP would cause congestion. The same is true regarding the lung, except that it’s just related to increased pulmonary permeability due to inflammation. Regardless, the idea is to save organs, and the earlier you can detect the problem, the sonner you can stop battering the more delicate organs with fluid.

As I think we have all mentioned, you really have to look at the whole picture, and put it together to tell the story of what is wrong, so we can logically and thoughtfully treat our patients.

I really appreciate this discussion. Thanks!



Thanks to Andre, Jon and Korbin for making this very educative for all!





ps don’t miss the POCUS Workshops on venous assessment at  !!!

Tom Woodcock: The Revised Starling Principle and The Glycocalyx! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.57.11 PM

So today, I had the chance of having a private tutorial with Dr. Thomas Woodcock (@thomaswoodcock) about the glycocalyx and the revised Starling principles.  For anyone interested in fluid resuscitation, this is an area you have to delve into. The basic principles we all learned (which are still being taught) are basically the physiological equivalent of the stick man we all started drawing as toddlers: overly simplified and far from an accurate representation of reality.

Now my first disclaimer is that I have been a colloid supporter for many years. My physiological logic for that had been to minimize the crystalloid spillover into inflamed/septic areas, particularly the lungs and abdomen, when those are the septic sources. However, I was likely misled by my education and lack of knowledge about the endothelium.

So I stumbled upon the whole glycocalyx thing a couple years ago, and this prompted me to try more enteral fluids – the only way fluids normally ever enter the vasculature – but little else. Aware that it’s there, but unsure what to do about it.

Now a year and a half ago, Andre Denault, my closest thing to a mentor, casually dropped the line to me about albumin not working. “Don’t use it. It doesn’t act the way we think it does.”  But it was a brief chat, and I didn’t get to pick his brain about it.  Just a few weeks ago, I discuss with Jon Emile (Kenny), and he’s coming to the same conclusion.  Damn. I’m finding it a bit harder to hang on to my albumin use, which is beginning to look a bit dogmatic and religious.

Here is Jon-Emile’s take on it – a must-read.

Here is Tom Woodcock’s site and article – another must-read.

And here is my discussion (in two parts) with Tom (to skip the silence, skip forward to about 30 seconds into each – sorry my editing skills are limited!)


Bottom line?

Probably stick to isotonic crystalloids, and some hypertonics.


Love to hear some thoughts!






Limited EGDT in Zambia Study: Salt Water Drowning Syndrome… #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So in this month’s issue of Critical Care Medicine, an interesting article was published, where investigators took a (necessarily) simplified version of EGDT to Zambia and applied it to septic patients. It turned out they had to stop it early due to an excessive number of cases of respiratory failure in the treatment group.  The difference was – you guessed it – they got “aggressive” volume resuscitation – up to 4l in the first 6 hours – guided by JVP assessment, and blood and dopamine if needed.


The amounts received by 6, 24 and 72h were 2.9, 3.9 and 5.6 l for the treatment group vs 1.6, 3.0 and 4.3 l.

Now lets keep in mind that the patients, for the most part, did not have access to critical care, so the limited resources for ventilatory support made stopping the trial a bit early the only reasonable thing to do. Mortality in the treatment group was 64% and control 60%. High numbers, but this is explained in part by the prevalence of HIV (80%) and TB (37% of the HIV positive patients), so this data can’t necessarily be extrapolated to all populations, but to me, this is physiological support for the concept that aggressive fluid resuscitation – as I have stated in prior posts/podcasts – is most dangerous in those patients where the septic source – presumably “leaky” is ill-equipped to handle extra-physiological fluid.  In these patients, as Myburgh states in a sepsis talk, “noradrenaline is the fluid of choice,” and although perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, this certainly speaks to my beliefs of resuscitating to euvolemia rather than to the lack of volume responsiveness (http://intensivecarenetwork.com/myburgh-john-beta-blockers-and-sepsis/).

Additionally, these patients were not hypotensive, and lactate was not available – local limitations of medical system. Hence the definition of severe sepsis triggering aggressive fluid resuscitation was based  on SIRS type criteria, rather than some form of volume assessment.


Bottom line?

Be cautious in aggressive fluid administration in pulmonary sepsis. What, I really dislike when people say “be careful” or “be cautious,” because let’s face it, that doesn’t really mean anything, does it?  It doesn’t tell you what to actually do… We are frontline clinicians, so I’ll say to limit fluid resuscitation in pulmonary sepsis.  2 litres up front?  Probably ok so long as I have a varying, mid-size IVC (maybe 10-15mm – arbitrary and chronic pulmonary disease and hypertension have to be factored in) and a decent heart, but I don’t want to get to the point of no longer being fluid-responsive. Rather, go to pressors a bit earlier, perhaps, and no need for ongoing “maintenance” fluids at 100-150 cc’s an hour – remember that 80% of this wonderful therapy ends up where we don’t want it to.





PS for awesome talks by amazing speakers, don’t forget to register for CCUS 2015!!! For more info: http://wp.me/p1avUV-aU and register at http://www.ccusinstitute.org

Fluid Responsiveness: Getting the right answer to the wrong question. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus

Let me start with a clinical scenario: you have a 68 year old male in front of you who is intubated, has bilateral pleural effusions, pulmonary edema, a bit of ascites, significant peripheral edema, elevated CVP/JVP/large IVC, and a moderately depressed cardiac function.  What is the diagnosis?

If you said CHF, you might be right. If you said post-resuscitation state in a septic patient, you might equally be right. Hmmm….

So as any self-respecting FOAMite knows, there is an ongoing and endless debate about fluid responsiveness, how best to detect it, what exact percentage of some variation represents it – is it 9% or 13% – and everyone has the way they swear by.

Well, I think the entire premise behind this is essentially flawed.

The fact that this is the first question implies that the answer should radically change management (eg giving or not giving fluids “generously” – yes, the quotes imply facetiousness).  Basically, that you should stop giving fluids when your patient is no longer fluid-responsive. The implication is that fluids is a better, safer, healthier, more naturopathic, eco-friendly and politically correct therapy than any other option.

I think we should reflect on that a little.

If you put some faith into normal physiology, you have to acknowledge that the only situations in which our cardiopulmonary system finds itself nearly or no longer fluid responsive are pathological: CHF, renal failure, etc. None of those are healthy. None of those are a bridge to healing.

What do we do when we are hypovolemic?  We vasoconstrict, stop peeing, try to drink a bit (if at all possible) and slowly replete our intravascular space via the portal system. We might build up a little lactic acid (helps feed the heart and brain – yup, nothing toxic about it), but we get over it.  Of course, if we lose too much, the system fails and we head to meet our maker.

Now, having remembered that, why do we feel (and I say feel because the evidence isn’t there to back it up) like we have to get to pathological levels of intravascular venous pressure to fix the problem?  Especially when the problem at hand isn’t primarily hypovolemia, but mostly vasodilation, with possibly a relative hypovolemia in part related to increased venous capacitance.

The real question is: does my patient really, truly need a lot of fluid?

And here is the catch: just because someone is fluid responsive doesn’t mean that they need any, or that it is the best thing for them. Whoa… Heretic… I thought “aggressive fluid resuscitation is the cornerstone of resuscitation in sepsis.

I think that answer is relatively simple.

No matter which method you are using (mine is IVC ultrasound: -https://thinkingcriticalcare.com/2014/04/01/the-ivc-assessment-by-bedside-ultrasound-lets-apply-some-common-sense-foamed-foamcc/), if you are deciding based on a millimetre of diameter, or a couple of percentage points of variation whether or not to give liters of crystalloids to your patient, there is no truth to that in the individual patient. Trying to figure out the tiniest of differences to decide our therapeutic options is, in my opinion, a huge waste of time with no scientific basis in the one single patient you are treating.   It’s like haggling for a dollar on a hundred dollar item in a flea market: you’re missing the boat.

“85% of patients with a IVC/SVV/SPV/PLR of …. are volume responsive” or something of the sort does NOT apply to the one patient you have in front of you as a recommendation for fluids. You have to make a complete clinical picture of it – feel the belly, look at the inspiratory effort, examine the tissues for edema, etc.

Grey zone it. The best we can do is a gross categorization of truly hypovolemic (need a lot), full (please don’t give me any), and “normal” which may need maybe a little, but probably not “generous” amounts. You’ll end up generously feeding the interstitial space and making things worse – and later maybe saying “oh well, I guess he/she was just so sick…”

Even if my patient is fluid-tolerant, why to we want to push him into near-pathological states? Is it just the old adage of “You have to swell to get well?”  In the light of much of our literature, I’m not sure that old wives’ tale holds a lot of water.

Are vasopressors that bad?  Not according to what we know…

At least, avoid actually reaching the point of no longer being fluid responsive. You can’t tell me you think that CHF is actually a good thing, can you?


Love to hear your thoughts!



PS, if you like to think out of the box and rather be on the cutting edge, make sure to mark your calendar for the coolest conference in Canada: #CCUS2015….http://wp.me/p1avUV-bh




SQS Replies:

I think your logic is sound enough, but the moat that makes it currently unassailable is that you are working in an area with no or very little data. There is clearly a reasonably well developed and continuing to develop literature around the mortality effects of excess volume. There is an older literature that suggests that our vasopressors are actually having their effect on the more normally functioning arterioles and may shunt well oxygenated blood from the well functioning cells of a tissue and to the ones that are shocked and can’t use the oxygen, anyway. At this juncture, your guess is as good as mine, as to which of these is the greater evil. Ergo, your argument is as good as any.

One thing I will say is that the patients who concern us are those in whom endotoxin, blood loss, or other factors have resulted in a shock state wherein cells and even large parts of tissues have both inadequate oxygen supply and inadequate ability to use whatever oxygen is supplied them. Any tool we have to alter this pathological state is blunt. Blood pressure? CVP? IVC size and behavior? SVI? What do any of these say about how well we are doing at the tissue and cellular level? Even the interesting markers of lactate, ScvO2, CV CO2, etc. are blunt instruments. As is our bag of fluid and as are our vasopressors. And think about our end result – “hemodynamic stability”, “better mental functioning”, “good urine output”, “feeling better”, “walking around”, “able to go back to work”. Things that are important to us and to our patient, but barely even measurable. How blunt are they?

My own approach, which I suspect to be yours, too, is to recognize that the new onset shock patient is momentarily different from the chronic CHF patient/”chronic” shock patient you describe above. We know there is an oxygen deficit, and it behooves us to correctly that as quickly as we can. We believe, with some data to back us up, that rapid correction of that deficit, to the extent that we can, can prevent the ugly chronic state. I use the blunt measures of fluid responsiveness in the first hour or two of resuscitation to ensure that the CO component of oxygen delivery is not deficient, and then I stop giving fluid. Early in the course, I am prone to rechecking “volume responsiveness” in some hours, because I know that fluid is leaching out of the vascular space and the patient has not stabilized, yet. All the while, I am highly aware that I am hoping this makes a difference, not knowing that it does. I am aware that it is rather circular to check SVI or IVC, give fluid, see a change and say, “See? Volume responsive.” And all the while knowing that every patient has his or her own line, beyond which more fluid will not be helpful but harmful. And all the while knowing that I can’t see that line, nor measure it with any tool that currently exists.

I think perhaps that we are like Phoenicians, navigating our way across the ocean by the North Star and trying to keep land in sight. We do a pretty good job of getting where we’re going a lot of the time. But won’t it be nice when we come up with GPS? Or even the astrolabe?



Fantastic points!

I can’t agree more. I do check for fluid responsiveness, and I do believe in rapid intervention – just perhaps not quite a vigorous and generous as medical marketing would have us buy. There isn’t more data for that than for a somewhat more conservative approach, in my opinion. Even the rate of administration is rarely looked at, just the totals. There is good animal data showing that, for instance, a more rapid rate of albumin infusion results in greater leak and less intravascular albumin at 6, 12 and 24 hours.  Little reason to think it would be any different in humans.  There is also data showing that the oxygen deficit in sepsis is not as ubiquitous as we think.

Our understanding of the septic disease state is minimal at best, and our tools exceedingly blunt, as you point out.  

GPS or astrolabe would be amazing. I’ve had a few discussions with people working on cytochrome spectroscopy – a possibility to assess mitochondrial “happiness,” which could give us an oxygenation endpoint. Then we could have a trial that might end up showing which degree of mitochondrial oxygenation is optimal, if any.

I know I am playing a bit of a devil’s advocate and that, in strict numbers, I probably don’t give a lot less fluid or a lot slower than most, but I think it is important to keep our minds open to change rather than keep a clenched fist around the ideas we have. 

When we have two docs debating whether IVC, SVV, carotid flow time (I do like Vicki’s stuff a lot) or something else, I think we are mostly in the grey zone, and the good thing is that either way, we are dealing with two docs who are aware and conscientious and doing the rest of the right things. But keep in mind there are a lot of docs out there who are in the acute care front lines who believe that bicarb “buffers” lactate. And by buffers they understand “neutralizes.”

I just hope that when the GPS comes along, we don’t lose ten years of knowledge translation time because we are still clinging to (at that point) outdated ideas like the IVC ultrasound… 😉

cheers and thanks so much for contributing fantastic material!


Marco says:

Philippe, I really feel like being on your same wavelength when I read your posts about fluid responsiveness. I think it’s obviously easy to agree that a bleeding hypovolemic patient is fluid responsive AND needs fluids, but the more accurately I think about the physiology of fluid resuscitation when a nurse is asking me “should we give him some fluids?” the more I realise that the “grey zone” is large and its upper limit is not easily detectable. Probably if you fill your patients to the point where they are no more fluid responsive, you are sure that no more fluid is needed, but you should be able to stop a bit earlier.
Blunt instruments and measures are an issue, and integration of the data is a possible solution (at least until a GPS comes along), but critical thinking is always a valuable resource.
The more I grow old the more I become minimalist in my approach to the “chronic acute ill” patient (90% of the patients on an ordinary day in my ICU). If a patient is in the grey zone, with a reasonably good hemodynamic stability, some vasopressor support, low dose diuretics and his urine output decreases, probably the decision of giving him fluids OR diuretics would be equally harmful. When a patient is in the grey zone and your instruments are not so accurate, it’s better to keep him safely in the grey zone. When you are in the mountains, you are caught in a snowstorm and cannot find your tracks, the safest decision is to stop and wait.. or follow your GPS 😉



You hit the nail on the head with “integration is key.


Fluids and Vasopressors in Sepsis, Wechter et al, CCM Journal: Anything Useful? #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

A couple of articles on fluid resuscitation worth mentioning. Not necessarily for their quality, but because they will be quoted and used, and critical appraisal of the content and conclusion is, without a doubt, necessary to us soldiers in the trenches.

The first one, Interaction between fluids and vasoactive agents on mortality in septic shock: a multi-center, observational study, from the october issue of the CCM Journal (2014) by Wechter et al, for the Cooperative Antimicrobial Therapy of Septic Shock Database Research Group, is a large scale effort do shed some light on one of the finer points of resuscitation, which is when to initiate vasopressors in relation to fluids in the face of ongoing shock/hypotension.

So they reviewed 2,849 patients in septic shock between 1989 and 2007, trying to note the patterns of fluid and vasopressor therapy which were associated with the best survival.  They found that survival was best when combining an early fluid loading, with pressors started somewhere in the 1-6 hour range.  I do invite you to read it for yourself, it is quite a complex analysis with a lot of permutations.

So…is it a good study?  Insofar as a retrospective study on a highly heterogeneous bunch of patients, I think so. But can I take the conclusion and generalize it to the patient I have in front of me with septic shock? I don’t think so. In all fairness, in the full text conclusion the authors concede that this study, rather than a clinical game-changer, is more of a hypothesis generator and should prompt further study. That, I think, is the fair conclusion.

In the abstract, however, the conclusion is that aggressive fluid therapy should be done, withholding vasopressors until after the first hour.  This is somewhat of a concern to me, since it isn’t uncommon for some to just read that part…

So why is this not generalizable?  First of all, I think that the very concept of generalizing is flawed.  We do not treat a hundred or a thousand patients at a time, and should not be seeking a therapeutic approach that works best for most, but for the one patient we are treating. Unfortunately, this is the inherent weakness of any large RCT and even more so in meta-analyses, unless the right subgroups have been drawn up in the study design.

Let me explain.

Patient A shows up with his septic peritonitis from his perforated cholecystitis. He’s a tough guy, been sick for days, obviously poor intake and finally crawls in. If you were to examine him properly, you’d have a hard time finding his tiny IVC, his heart would be hyperdynamic, his lungs would have clear A profiles, except maybe for a few B lines at the right base. You’d give him your version of EGDT, and he’d do pretty well. A lot better than if you loaded him with vasopressors early and worsened his perfusion. Score one for the guideline therapy.

Patient B shows up with his septic pneumonia, also a tough guy, but happens to be a diabetic with a past MI. He comes is pretty quick cuz he’s short of breath.  If you examine him properly, he has a big IVC, small pleural effusions, right basal consolidation and B lines in good quantity. He gets “EGDT” with an aggressive volume load and progressively goes into respiratory failure, which is ascribed to his severe pneumonia/ARDS, but more likely represents volume overload, as he was perhaps a little volume responsive, but not volume tolerant. An example of Paul Marik’s “salt water drowning.” (http://wp.me/p1avUV-aD) Additionally he goes into acute renal failure, ascribed to severe sepsis, but certainly not helped by the venous congestion (http://wp.me/p1avUV-2J). If he doesn’t make it, the thought process will likely be that he was just so sick, but that he got “gold standard” care. Or did he?

It may very well be that the studied group may include more Patient A types, and less B types, whose worse outcome will be hidden by the “saves” of the As. If you have a therapy that saves 15/100 but kills 5/100 you still come out 10/100 ahead… Great for those 15, not so much for the 5 outliers.

We, however, as physicians, need to apply the N=1 principle as we do not treat a hundred or a thousand patients at a time. I would not hesitate to be much more conservative in fluid resuscitating a B-type patient, regardless of the evidence.

Unfortunately, until trials include a huge number of important variables (an accurate measure of volume status, cardiac function, capillary leak, extravascular lung water, etc), it will be impossible to extrapolate results  to an individual patient.  These trials will, I suppose, eventually be done, but will be huge undertakings, and I do look forward to those results.

So, bottom line?

It’s as good a study of this type as could be done, but the inherent limitations make it of little clinical use, unless your current practice is really extreme on fluids or pressors. What it will hopefully be, however, is an onus to do the highly complex and integrative trials that need to be done to determine the right way to treat each patient we face.







Lawrence Lynn says:

Excellent post. This thoughtful quote should be read and understood by every sepsis trialists!!

“We do not treat a hundred or a thousand patients at a time, and should not be seeking a therapeutic approach that works best for most, but for the one patient we are treating.”

This single quote exposes the delay in progress caused by the ubiquitous oversimplification which defines present sepsis clinical trials. Bacteria (and viruses) generate “extended phenotypes” which are manifested in the host. These phenotypes combine with the phenotypic host response to produce the range of “dynamic relational hybrid phenotypes of bacterial and viral infection”. These hybrid phenotypes are also affected by the innoculum and/or the site of infection (vis-à-vis, your example of peritonitis).

Certainly Wechter et al and the Cooperative Antimicrobial Therapy of Septic Shock Database Research Group should be commended for beginning the process of moving toward the study of the dynamic relational patterns of complex rapidly evolving disease and treatment.

We are excited to see the beginning of the move of trialists toward the study of dynamic state of disease and treatment. However, before they can help us with meaningful results, trialists will need to study and define the range of “the dynamic relational phenotypes of severe infection” and then study the treatment actual phenotypes. This will not be easy as these organisms have had hundreds of thousands of years of evolution writing the complex genotypes which code for the extended of human infection. Sepsis trailists need to be encouraged by clinicians to rise to the task.

The clinicians must actively teach the trialists, (as you have in your post) that we expect trails which help to identity the therapeutic approach that works best in response to the dynamic hybrid phenotype “we are treating”.

The two linked articles below explain the present oversimplified state of the science of sepsis trails and why we clinicians must teach the trailists not to oversimplify and assure that they move quickly toward the study of the actual dynamic phenotypes of severe infection.



This is a paradigm shift so we, as clincians, must act to teach trailists this move is necessary. Otherwise we will continue to be left with hypotheses, which, while nice, are not useful at the bedside.

Lawrence Lynn



Salt water drowning…not just an environmental accident! Annals of Intensive Care 2014. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Paul for a few years as he has lectured at CCUS Symposia several times, and he is one of the few people I know who combine expertise, experience and a willingness – no, a passion – to think outside the box, challenge dogma and push the envelope of acute care.

In this month’s issue of the Annals of Intensive Care, Paul put together a great synthesis on fluid resuscitation, both the type and the quantity. It isn’t necessarily the kind of paper that gives you a cookie-cutter recipe on what to do, but rather the kind of paper that I really, really like: one that gives you a proper lens through which to see an issue, and a way to re-examine your therapeutic decisions.


Tying in the type of fluid to the glycocalyx, the author leads us down the path of physiological resuscitation, which is currently not being performed.  There is certainly much, much more to come on the topic in the next few years, and we have to be ready to possibly radically change our practice. For the better.

So I think this paper should be a cornerstone for any resuscitationist, whether or not you actually agree with everything Paul says.  If you don’t, then do come up with a rationale to justify what you like to do, and perhaps teach us all something along the way. Preferably, this rationale should be physiological, and possibly evidence-based, and should not include any of the following catch parses:

“well, it’s what everyone does,” “this is what we do at (prestigious) University…” “I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” “They call it normal saline for a reason you know (dismissive chuckle),” and “there’s no randomized trial…”  and on and on.  When I hear that, time to close the discussion.

Enjoy the article!


PS for awesome talks by amazing speakers (including Paul Marik!), don’t forget to register for CCUS 2015!!! For more info: http://wp.me/p1avUV-aU and register at http://www.ccusinstitute.org!





Blood transfusion and serum S1P levels in Sepsis: a leaky proposition? (Protecting the Glycocalyx Part1) #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So in my ongoing quest to reframe my resuscitation step-by-step, I’ve been following up on a number of leads regarding the glycocalyx, as previously stated, and John’s reference to this article in a previous comment I feel is highly relevant. So this is it:

Synergistic Effect of Anemia and Red Blood Cells Transfusion on Inflammation and Lung Injury,  Anping Dong, Manjula Sunkara, Manikandan Panchatcharam, Abdel Salous, Samy Selim, Andrew J.Morris, and Susan S. Smyth

Advances in Hematology, Volume 2012, Article ID 924042, 8 pages


S1P (sphingosine-1-phosphate) is a regulator of endothelial permeability and immune function.  Uh-oh, why had I not heard of it? Hmmm…I don’t think it was in Guyton’s or in Harrison’s…and there hasn’t been an RCT about it… Ok, that about explains it.

So here are some factoids about S1P:

–       serum levels correlate with HCT as RBCs serve as an S1P reservoir.

–       anemic patients’ S1P levels are NOT fully replenished by transfusion, especially the older the transfused blood is.

–       In fact, older RBCs may actually remove plasma S1P.

The study:

They basically took mice, and in the first group, bled them (by 20ml/kg) and looked at inflammatory markers, lung permeability and also S1P levels. That’s basically the control group, and they noted that hemorrhage significantly increased inflammatory markers (interesting in and of itself) . They then transfused these mice using wither fresh, S1P-loaded RBCs, or 14-day old RBCs, and, lo and behold, the fresh blood resulted in less inflammation, increased S1P, but most importantly, markedly decreased lung permeability. So clearly, S1P attenuates transfusion associated lung permeability.

In the next group, they injected the mice with LPS following hemorrhage, and found a synergistic effect of blood loss and LPS on inflammation and lung permeability, as could be imagined. Following the LPS, they were transfused with one of four strategies: fresh blood, old blood, fresh blood + S1P or old blood + S1P.  Well, lung permeability still increased in all groups, but least in the fresh blood + S1P, and the old blood + S1P a close second.

Note, interestingly enough, that saline alone (the “control”) also increased lung permeability, highlighting yet again that NS (and probably any crystalloid) is not innocuous…

So here we’re looking at the finer effects of transfusion, and why, against “common-sense” correcting a patient’s hemoglobin level does not seem to help in all situations.  We have understood the aging issue and loss of deformability, but it is time to take a finer look.  We are familiar – at least in concept – with transfusion-associated lung injury or TRALI, but the mechanism remains unclear.

Summary and Take-Home message:

S1P infusions in sepsis?  Maybe someday…

Yes, this is an animal study, and the results cannot be extrapolated directly to humans, but it is food for thought, as John had mentioned.  Certainly at least this should tell us to keep and ear/eye out for human work with S1P, but personally, it will make me even more comfortable in not transfusing my septic patients with hb’s in the low 70’s and maybe even high 60’s (try repeating the cbc, more often than not comes back a couple points higher and you can avoid transfusion), and for those who are a little more aggressive with transfusion, maybe this should make them think twice…

I’ll add what I can dig up on human S1P studies soon.