Year in review 2006: Critical Care – paediatrics
Critical Care volume 11, Article number: 222 (2007)
In 2006, paediatric intensive care-related subjects were discussed in a number of papers published in various journals, including Critical Care. Because they focused on the cardiovascular system and its support, we summarize them here. In particular, these papers highlighted the management of refractory septic shock, extracorporeal support, outcome markers in sepsis, and outcome after cardiac arrest.
In 2006, the paediatric intensive care (PIC) cardiovascular-related subjects that were discussed in Critical Care included sepsis, viral infection, extracorporeal circulatory support, and outcome after cardiopulmonary arrest.
In children, death and morbidity from sepsis and septic shock are particular problems . Hypotensive, catecholamine-resistant shock is increasingly recognized as a cause of death in the post-resuscitation period. Arginine-vasopressin (AVP) and terlipressin (TP) are capable of improving blood pressure but not without adverse effects such as limb gangrene [2–6]. The action of AVP is mediated via two receptors, vascular V1, leading to arterial vasoconstriction, and renal tubular V2.
Landry and colleagues  reported the beneficial effect of AVP in critically ill adults with septic shock resistant to inotropic therapy. AVP and TP have now been studied in both adults and children as rescue therapy for catecholamine-resistant shock [2–5, 7]. Meyer and colleagues  reported the use of AVP infusion in six extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants with catecholamine-resistant shock. The patients were divided into two groups: (a) septic shock (two bacterial and one fungal) and (b) non-sepsis-induced shock. All patients presented with acute renal injury and were receiving norepinephrine/epinephrine (NE/E) and hydrocortisone. The three patients with septic shock showed improvement in blood pressure, urine output, and serum lactate level after starting AVP. In addition, the NE/E infusion doses could be reduced. There was one death in these three patients, and the AVP infusion was required for 70 ± 21 hours. In patients with non-sepsis-related shock, blood pressure and urine output improved during the first few hours of infusion, but this effect was not sustained. All three patients in this group died. The authors suggested that AVP may be of use in septic shock in the ELBW population. However, a question remains as to the mechanism of action of AVP and whether there is relative AVP deficiency in this population [4, 8].
TP, a synthetic analog of AVP with a longer half-life, was tested in a prospective, multicentre study reported by Rodríguez-Núñez and colleagues . Critically ill children presenting with catecholamine-resistant septic shock in any of nine PIC units in Spain were enrolled for rescue therapy (TP 0.02 mg/kg, four times hourly). Sixteen children ages 1 month to 13 years (eight patients with meningococcal disease [MD], two patients with Staphylococcus aureus sepsis, and six cases with sepsis of unknown origin) were enrolled after being treated with at least two catecholamines in high doses. TP induced a fast and stable rise in blood pressure; the mean blood pressure increased from 50.5 to 77 mmHg 30 minutes after administration (p < 0.05). This response allowed a reduction in NE infusion rate from 2 μg/kg per minute prior to TP to 1 μg/kg per minute 12 hours after initiating treatment (p < 0.05). Other infusions were not significantly reduced. Seven patients already showed significant ischemia prior to TP administration. In these children, ischemia increased or persisted in three and improved in four. In the nine patients without ischemic episodes before TP administration, five developed ischemia that was possibly related to the TP infusion. Other adverse effects such as oliguria, rhabdomyolysis, and hyperkalemia also occurred. Seven patients survived and four of these had significant sequelae (amputation of lower limbs and hands in one case, amputation of fingers in two cases, and minor neurological defects in another case). Whether these problems were related to TP, high-dose NE/E, or refractory shock per se is difficult to establish. The small number of patients in this study makes it difficult to provide a broader conclusion.
In developed countries, the mortality in MD is close to 10%. In developing countries, it is as high as 50%. The clinical presentation of MD varies from a mild illness to septic syndrome with meningitis. The role of chemokines in meningococcal sepsis and septic shock was studied by Vermont and colleagues  in a retrospective study. The authors compared the levels of the CC family of chemokines (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 [MCP-1] and macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha [MIP-1α]) and the CXC family of chemokines (GRO-α [growth-related gene product alpha] and IL-8 [interleukin-8]) in survivors and non-survivors of MD. The data from 58 children were reviewed. Significant differences were observed between survivors and non-survivors for all serum chemokines (p < 0.0001). All non-survivors had higher levels of the four chemokines measured. A positive correlation was also found with the Paediatric Risk of Mortality score (p < 0.0001), the Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation score, and the Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment. MCP-1 and MIP-1α levels were negatively correlated with the time between the appearance of petechiae and the time of blood sampling (p = 0.037). Although no control group was analysed in this study, it does show that chemokine levels correlate strongly with disease severity.
Viral infection in the paediatric intensive care unit
Eisenhut  undertook a review of the systemic effects of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in children. The findings indicate that this infection induces systemic disease, and it is therefore important to consider effects on cardiac rhythm, blood pressure, and serum sodium. Whether these effects are due to the presence of the virus in the tissue or whether they represent the severity of the lung disease, however, is still not clear.
Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) leading to respiratory failure and mechanical ventilation is an important cause of admission for PIC. The cause of illness in these cases may be difficult to establish, but most are believed to be due to respiratory viruses [11–14]. The need for a rapid diagnosis is an ongoing discussion in the literature [12, 13]. Van de Pol and colleagues  reported their comparison of conventional diagnostic methods (culture and immunofluorescence) with real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Of 23 patients admitted for PIC because of LRTI, the authors analysed 21 by means of culture, 22 by means of immunofluorescence, and 23 by means of RT-PCR. Forty-eight percent (n = 11) were positive for respiratory viruses by conventional methods and 96% by RT-PCR. More than one virus was detected in one third of the patients, but only by using the RT-PCR technique. This method was found to be highly sensitive for a broad range of respiratory viruses (RSV A and B, influenza virus A and B, parainfluenza virus 1–4, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, human coronavirus OC43, NL63, and 229E, and human metapneumovirus) and atypical bacteria (Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Clamydia pneumoniae). RT-PCR increased the diagnostic yield by twofold in comparison to conventional methods and proved to be a reliable and fast diagnostic method.
Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is known to alter the inflammatory response and coagulant activity. In children, CPB is believed to lead to a procoagulant state [16–18]. Heying and colleagues  documented the alteration in pro- and anti-thrombotic activity in children undergoing cardiac surgery. Two groups were assessed: (a) those scheduled to have palliative surgery with total cavo-pulmonary connection (TCPC) (n = 10) and (b) those undergoing biventricular repair (BV) (n = 8). The highest values of pro-thrombotic fractions (fragment 1+2 from prothrombin, thromboxane B2 [TxB2], and MCP-1) were observed at the end of CPB. These levels returned to normal after 24 hours. Maximal levels of tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) were observed at the beginning of CPB. Early postoperative TFPI levels were significantly lower (p < 0.01) and TxB2 levels were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in patients with TCPC in comparison with those undergoing BV. This study shows that in paediatric CPB, there is a transient imbalance in coagulation which is more significant in those undergoing TCPC.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
Van der Vorst and colleagues  reported a cohort study that retrospectively analysed continuous intravenous use of furosemide in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) patients. The goal was to perform an analysis comparing patients who received continuous furosemide with those who were prescribed only bolus doses of loop diuretic. Urine output and haemodynamic stability were similar in the two groups. The authors are now undertaking a prospective comparative study.
The overall benefit of ECMO for neonatal respiratory failure in the UK is still evident at 7 years of age . Hanekamp and colleagues  have provided a report on their 5-year follow-up of newborns treated with veno-arterial ECMO in the Netherlands. Ninety-eight of 144 patients (87%) responded to a follow-up questionnaire and presented for medical and neurological assessments. Seventeen percent of children were found to have neurological deficits, 6% with severe impairment (two of these had chromosomal abnormality). Among the 92 patients who had psychomotor assessments performed, 26% exhibited motor difficulties and 14% had cognitive delay. These data reinforce the high frequency of long-term morbidity in patients who undergo ECMO during the neonatal period and also the necessity for a multidisciplinary follow-up.
Outcome from paediatric arrest
The most frequent, non-shockable cardiac rhythms seen during arrest in children are asystole and pulseless activity . Shockable rhythms such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (PVT) are believed to represent nearly 20% of cases. When shockable rhythms are evident at presentation, outcome is better than when they develop during resuscitation . Rodríguez-Núñez and colleagues  reported a study aimed at analysing the outcome of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that included defibrillation in children. The authors identified 44 subjects out of 241 (18.2%) who received shock at some point during CPR. VF or PVT was the first documented rhythm in 19 patients, and the other 25 children developed one of these rhythms during resuscitation. Return to spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved in 28 (63.1%) and was sustained in 19 (43.2%). One-year follow-up showed that there were only three survivors (6.8%). Early electric shock delivery (within 4 minutes) represented better ROSC (68.9% versus 37.5%), better initial survival (ROSC maintained for more than 20 minutes [55.1% versus 12.5%; p = 0.037]), and better final survival (10.3% versus 0%). Children older than 1 year had better ROSC (75% versus 33%; p = 0.016) and initial survival (53% versus 16.7%; p = 0.042).
extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
extremely low birth weight
lower respiratory tract infection
monocyte chemoattractant protein-1
macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha
paediatric intensive care
pulseless ventricular tachycardia
return to spontaneous circulation
respiratory syncytial virus
real-time polymerase chain reaction
total cavo-pulmonary connection
tissue factor pathway inhibitor
Carcillo JA: What's new in pediatric intensive care. Crit Care Med 2006, (Suppl 9):S183-S190. 10.1097/01.CCM.0000232492.44019.E6
Landry DW, Levin HR, Gallant EM, Ashton RC Jr, Seo S, D'Alessandro D, Oz MC, Oliver JA: Vasopressin deficiency contributes to the vasodilation of septic shock. Circulation 1997, 95: 1122-1225.
Liedel JL, Meadow W, Nachman J, Koogler T, Kahana MD: Use of vasopressin in refractory hypotension in children with vasodilatory shock: five cases and a review of the literature. Pediatr Crit Care Med 2002, 3: 15-18. 10.1097/00130478-200201000-00004
Rodríguez-Núñez A, López-Herce J, Gil-Antón J, Hernández A, Rey C, RETSPED Working Group of the Spanish Society of Pediatric Intensive Care: Rescue treatment with terlipressin in children with refractory septic shock: a clinical study. Crit Care 2006, 10: R20. 10.1186/cc3984
Meyer S, Gottschling S, Baghai A, Wurm D, Gortner L: Arginine-vasopressin in catecholamine-refractory septic versus non-septic shock in extremely low birth weight infants with acute renal injury. Crit Care 2006, 10: R71. 10.1186/cc4917
Leone M, Martin C: Rescue therapy in septic shock – is terlipressin the last frontier? Crit Care 2006, 10: 131-132. 10.1186/cc4863
Matok I, Vard A, Efrati O, Rubinshtein M, Vishne T, Leibovitch L, Adam M, Barzilay Z, Paret G: Terlipressin as rescue therapy for intractable hypotension due to septic shock in children. Shock 2005, 23: 305-310. 10.1097/01.shk.0000158115.69704.11
Sutherland AM, Gordon AC, Russell JA: Are vasopressin levels increased or decreased in septic shock? Crit Care Med 2006, 34: 542-543. 10.1097/01.CCM.0000199074.72478.8B
Vermont CL, Hazelzet JA, de Kleijn ED, van den Dobbelsteen GP, de Groot R: CC and CXC chemokine levels in children with meningococcal sepsis accurately predict mortality and disease severity. Crit Care 2006, 10: R33. 10.1186/cc4836
Eisenhut M: Extrapulmonary manifestations of severe respiratory syncytial virus infection – a systematic review. Crit Care 2006, 10: R107. 10.1186/cc4984
Thorburn K, Hart CA: Think outside the box: extrapulmonary manifestations of severe respiratory syncytial virus infection. Crit Care 2006, 10: 159-160. 10.1186/cc5012
Freymuth F, Vabret A, Cuvillon-Nimal D, Simon S, Dina J, Legrand L, Gouarin S, Petitjean J, Eckart P, Brouard J: Comparison of multiplex PCR assays and conventional techniques for the diagnostic of respiratory virus infections in children admitted to hospital with an acute respiratory illness. J Med Virol 2006, 78: 1498-1504. 10.1002/jmv.20725
Oosterheert JJ, van Loon AM, Schuurman R, Hoepelman AI, Hak E, Thijsen S, Nossent G, Schneider MM, Hustinx WM, Bonten MJ: Impact of rapid detection of viral and atypical bacterial pathogens by real-time polymerase chain reaction for patients with lower respiratory tract infection. Clin Infect Dis 2005, 41: 1438-1444. 10.1086/497134
Van Woensel JB, Kimpen JL, Brand PL: Respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus in children. Diagnosis and treatment. Minerva Pediatr 2001, 53: 99-106.
Van de Pol AC, Wolfs TF, Jansen NJ, van Loon AM, Rossen JW: Diagnostic value of real-time polymerase chain reaction to detect viruses in young children admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit with lower respiratory tract infection. Crit Care 2006, 10: R61. 10.1186/cc4895
Edmunds LH Jr, Colman RW: Thrombin during cardiopulmonary bypass. Ann Thorac Surg 2006, 82: 2315-2322. 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2006.06.072
Chan AK, Leaker M, Burrows FA, Williams WG, Gruenwald CE, Whyte L, Adams M, Brooker LA, Adams H, Mitchell L, et al.: Coagulation and fibrinolytic profile of paediatric patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass. Thromb Haemost 1997, 77: 270-277.
Jaggers JJ, Neal MC, Smith PK, Ungerleider RM, Lawson JH: Infant cardiopulmonary bypass: a procoagulant state. Ann Thorac Surg 1999, 68: 513-520. 10.1016/S0003-4975(99)00644-X
Heying R, van Oeveren W, Wilhelm S, Schumacher K, Grabitz RG, Messmer BJ, Seghaye MC: Children undergoing cardiac surgery for complex cardiac defects show imbalance between pro- and anti-thrombotic activity. Crit Care 2006, 10: 165. 10.1186/cc5108
Van der Vorst MM, Wildschut E, Houmes RJ, Gischler SJ, Kist-van Holthe JE, Burggraaf J, van der Heijden AJ, Tibboel D: Evaluation of furosemide regimens in neonates treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Crit Care 2006, 10: 168. 10.1186/cc5115
McNally H, Bennett CC, Elbourne D, Field DJ, UK Collaborative ECMO Trial Group: United Kingdom collaborative randomized trial of neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: follow-up to age 7 years. Pediatrics 2006, 117: 845. 10.1542/peds.2005-1167
Hanekamp MN, Mazer P, van der Cammen-van Zijp MH, van Kessel-Feddema BJ, Nijhuis-van der Sanden MW, Knuijt S, Zegers-Verstraeten JL, Gischler SJ, Tibboel D, Kollee LA: Follow-up of newborns treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a nationwide evaluation at 5 years of age. Crit Care 2006, 10: 127. 10.1186/cc5039
Nadkarni VM, Larkin GL, Peberdy MA, Carey SM, Kaye W, Mancini ME, Nichol G, Lane-Truitt T, Potts J, Ornato JP, National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Investigators, et al.: First documented rhythm and clinical outcome from in-hospital cardiac arrest among children and adults. JAMA 2006, 295: 50-57. 10.1001/jama.295.1.50
Samson RA, Nadkarni VM, Meaney PA, Carey SM, Berg MD, Berg RA, American Heart Association National Registry of CPR Investigators: Outcomes of in-hospital ventricular fibrillation in children. N Engl J Med 2006, 354: 2328-2339. 10.1056/NEJMoa052917
Rodríguez-Núñez A, López-Herce J, García C, Domínguez P, Carrillo A, Bellón JM, Spanish Study Group of Cardiopulmonary Arrest in Children: Pediatric defibrillation after cardiac arrest: initial response and outcome. Crit Care 2006, 10: R113. 10.1186/cc5005
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Amoretti, C.F., Tasker, R.C. Year in review 2006: Critical Care – paediatrics. Crit Care 11, 222 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/cc5946
- Septic Shock
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus
- Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor
- Shockable Rhythm