Recent Submissions

  • Intraoperative and intraprocedural use of 3-dimensional transesophageal echocardiography: an International European Association of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Intensive Care survey of cardiac surgical centers

    Bence, Johan (2024-03-09)
    Objective: To assess the intraoperative use of 3-dimensional transesophageal echocardiography (3D TEE) in cardiac surgical centers, the authors created a survey aimed at evaluating the availability of equipment and the use of 3D TEE for specific surgical and interventional procedures and single-image modalities. The respondents were asked to identify the perceived impact on patient management and current limitations to its routine use. Design: A multiple choice 25-question online survey submitted to the members of the European Association of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Intensive Care (EACTAIC) on December 6, 2021, and closed on January 31, 2022. Setting: An online survey. Participants: Registered EACTAIC members in 2021. Interventions: None. Measurements and main results: A total of 239 respondents from 44 different countries took part in the survey (27% of the total 903 EACTAIC members). Most respondents (59%) were TEE-certified by the National Board of Echocardiography, European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI/EACTAIC), or had a national certificate. Of the respondents, 68% had no formal 3D TEE training. Eight percent of respondents had no 3D machines, whereas 40% had one for each operating room, and 33% had only one for the entire operating room block. 3D TEE was performed most frequently in more than 67% of cases for mitral valve surgery, and in more than 54% of cases for mitral and tricuspid clips, aortic valve, tricuspid valve, and aortic surgery. Conclusion: Current guidelines suggest integrating 3D TEE into all comprehensive examinations. The authors' survey reported that intraoperative 3D TEE was used in the majority of mitral valve surgery and only one-half of the other valve surgeries and transcatheter procedures. Its use may be explained by the availability of 3D machines, trained personnel, and limited time to perform TEE in the operating room. Educational initiatives for training in 3D TEE may further increase its routine use.
  • Clinical guideline on reversal of direct oral anticoagulants in patients with life threatening bleeding

    Ahmed, Aamer (2024-05-01)
    Background: Anticoagulation is essential for the treatment and prevention of thromboembolic events. Current guidelines recommend direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) over vitamin K antagonists in DOAC-eligible patients. The major complication of anticoagulation is serious or life-threatening haemorrhage, which may necessitate prompt haemostatic intervention. Reversal of DOACs may also be required for patients in need of urgent invasive procedures. This guideline from the European Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (ESAIC) aims to provide evidence-based recommendations and suggestions on how to manage patients on DOACs undergoing urgent or emergency procedures including the treatment of DOAC-induced bleeding. Design: A systematic literature search was performed, examining four drug comparators (dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, edoxaban) and clinical scenarios ranging from planned to emergency surgery with the outcomes of mortality, haematoma growth and thromboembolic complications. The GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation) methodology was used to assess the methodological quality of the included studies. Consensus on the wording of the recommendations was achieved by a Delphi process. Results: So far, no results from prospective randomised trials comparing two active comparators (e.g. a direct reversal agent and an unspecific haemostatic agent such as prothrombin complex concentrate: PCC) have been published yet and the majority of publications were uncontrolled and observational studies. Thus, the certainty of evidence was assessed to be either low or very low (GRADE C). Thirty-five recommendations and clinical practice statements were developed. During the Delphi process, strong consensus (>90% agreement) was achieved in 97.1% of recommendations and consensus (75 to 90% agreement) in 2.9%. Discussion: DOAC-specific coagulation monitoring may help in patients at risk for elevated DOAC levels, whereas global coagulation tests are not recommended to exclude clinically relevant DOAC levels. In urgent clinical situations, haemostatic treatment using either the direct reversal or nonspecific haemostatic agents should be started without waiting for DOAC level monitoring. DOAC levels above 50 ng ml-1 may be considered clinically relevant necessitating haemostatic treatment before urgent or emergency procedures. Before cardiac surgery under activated factor Xa (FXa) inhibitors, the use of andexanet alfa is not recommended because of inhibition of unfractionated heparin, which is needed for extracorporeal circulation. In the situation of DOAC overdose without bleeding, no haemostatic intervention is suggested, instead measures to eliminate the DOACs should be taken. Due to the lack of published results from comparative prospective, randomised studies, the superiority of reversal treatment strategy vs. a nonspecific haemostatic treatment is unclear for most urgent and emergency procedures and bleeding. Due to the paucity of clinical data, no recommendations for the use of recombinant activated factor VII as a nonspecific haemostatic agent can be given. Conclusion: In the clinical scenarios of DOAC intake before urgent procedures and DOAC-induced bleeding, practitioners should evaluate the risk of bleeding of the procedure and the severity of the DOAC-induced bleeding before initiating treatment. Optimal reversal strategy remains to be determined in future trials for most clinical settings.
  • Best practice recommendations for medically assisted reproduction in patients with known cardiovascular disease or at high risk of cardiovascular disease

    Elton, Chris (2023-12)
    Increasing numbers of people are seeking assisted conception. In people with known cardiac disease or risk factors for cardiac disease, assisted conception may carry increased risks during treatment and any subsequent pregnancy. These risks should be assessed, considered and minimized prior to treatment.
  • Independent sector and peri-operative cardiac arrest as reported to the 7th National Audit Project of the Royal College of Anaesthetists

    Bouch, C (2024-01-04)
    The 7th National Audit Project (NAP7) of the Royal College of Anaesthetists studied peri-operative cardiac arrest including those that occurred in the independent healthcare sector, which provides around 1 in 6 NHS-funded care episodes. In total, 174 (39%) of 442 independent hospitals contacted agreed to participate. A survey examining provider preparedness for cardiac arrest had a response rate of 23 (13%), preventing useful analysis. An activity survey with 1912 responses (from a maximum of 45% of participating hospitals) showed that, compared with the NHS caseload, the independent sector caseload was less comorbid, with fewer patients at the extremes of age or who were severely obese, and with a large proportion of elective orthopaedic surgery undertaken during weekday working hours. The survey suggested suboptimal compliance rates with monitoring recommendations. Seventeen reports of independent sector peri-operative cardiac arrest comprised 2% of NAP7 reports and underreporting is likely. These patients were lower risk than NHS cases, reflecting the sector's case mix, but included cases of haemorrhage, anaphylaxis, cardiac arrhythmia and pulmonary embolus. Good and poor quality care were seen, the latter including delayed recognition and treatment of patient deterioration, and poor care delivery. Independent sector outcomes were similar to those in the NHS, though due to the case mix, improved outcomes might be anticipated. Assessment of quality of care was less often favourable for independent sector reports than NHS reports, though assessments were often uncertain, reflecting poor quality reports. Overall, NAP7 is unable to determine whether peri-operative care relating to cardiac arrest is more, equally or less safe than in the NHS.
  • Management of acute cervical spinal cord injury in the non-specialist intensive care unit: a narrative review of current evidence

    Wynn-Hebden, A (2024-02)
    Each year approximately one million people suffer spinal cord injury, which has significant physical, psychosocial and economic impacts on patients and their families. Spinal cord rehabilitation centres are a well-established part of the care pathway for patients with spinal cord injury and facilitate improvements in functional independence and reductions in healthcare costs. Within the UK, however, there are a limited number of spinal cord injury centres, which delays admission. Patients and their families often perceive that they are not receiving specialist care while being treated in non-specialist units. This review aimed to provide clinicians who work in non-specialist spinal injury centres with a summary of contemporary studies relevant to the critical care management of patients with cervical spinal cord injury. We undertook a targeted literature review including guidelines, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical trials and randomised controlled trials published in English between 1 June 2017 and 1 June 2023. Studies involving key clinical management strategies published before this time, but which have not been updated or repeated, were also included. We then summarised the key management themes: acute critical care management approaches (including ventilation strategies, blood pressure management and tracheostomy insertion); respiratory weaning techniques; management of pain and autonomic dysreflexia; and rehabilitation.
  • Baseline haemoglobin variability by measurement technique in pregnant people on the day of childbirth

    McMahon, Orlaith (2023-11-21)
    Point-of-care haemoglobin measurement devices may play an important role in the antenatal detection of anaemia in pregnant people and may be useful in guiding blood transfusion during resuscitation in obstetric haemorrhage. We compared baseline haemoglobin variability of venous and capillary HemoCue® haemoglobin, and Masimo® Rad-67 Pulse CO-Oximeter haemoglobin with laboratory haemoglobin in people on the day of their planned vaginal birth. A total of 180 people undergoing planned vaginal birth were enrolled in this prospective observational study. Laboratory haemoglobin was compared with HemoCue and Masimo Rad-67 Pulse CO-Oximeter measurements using Bland-Altman analysis, calculating mean difference (bias) and limits of agreement. Five (2.8%) people had anaemia (haemoglobin < 110 g.l-1 ). Laboratory haemoglobin and HemoCue venous haemoglobin comparison showed an acceptable bias (SD) 0.7 (7.54) g.l-1 (95%CI -0.43-1.79), with limits of agreement -14.10-15.46 g.l-1 and acceptable agreement range of 29.6 g.l-1 . Laboratory and HemoCue capillary haemoglobin comparison showed an unacceptable bias (SD) 13.3 (14.12) g.l-1 (95%CI 11.17-15.34), with limits of agreement - 14.42-40.93 g.l-1 and unacceptable agreement range of 55.3 g.l-1 . Laboratory and Masimo haemoglobin comparison showed an unacceptable bias (SD) -14.0 (11.15) g.l-1 (95%CI -15.63 to -12.34), with limits of agreement to -35.85 to 7.87 g.l-1 and acceptable agreement range of 43.7 g.l-1 . Venous HemoCue, with its acceptable bias and limits of agreement, should be applied more widely in the antenatal setting to detect, manage and risk stratify pregnant people with anaemia. HemoCue capillary measurement under-estimated haemoglobin and Masimo haemoglobin measurement over-estimated, limiting their clinical use. Serial studies are needed to determine if the accuracy of venous HemoCue haemoglobin measurement is sustained in other obstetric settings.
  • Robotic-assisted surgery in high-risk surgical patients with endometrial cancer

    Moss, Esther (2023-11-04)
    Many patients diagnosed with an endometrial cancer are at high-risk for surgery due to factors such as advanced age, raised body mass index or frailty. Minimally-invasive surgery, in particular robotic-assisted, is increasingly used in the surgical management of endometrial cancer however, there are a lack of clinical trials investigating outcomes in high-risk patient populations. This article will review the current evidence and identify areas of uncertainty where future research is needed.
  • Thrombosis, major bleeding, and survival in COVID-19 supported by veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in the first vs second wave: a multicenter observational study in the United Kingdom

    Isgro, Graziella; Yusuff, Hakeem (2023-10)
    Background: Bleeding and thrombosis are major complications of veno-venous (VV) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Objectives: To assess thrombosis, major bleeding (MB), and 180-day survival in patients supported by VV-ECMO between the first (March 1 to May 31, 2020) and second (June 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: An observational study of 309 consecutive patients (aged ≥18years) with severe COVID-19 supported by VV-ECMO was performed in 4 nationally commissioned ECMO centers in the United Kingdom. Results: Median age was 48 (19-75) years, and 70.6% were male. Probabilities of survival, thrombosis, and MB at 180 days in the overall cohort were 62.5% (193/309), 39.8% (123/309), and 30% (93/309), respectively. In multivariate analysis, an age of >55 years (hazard ratio [HR], 2.29; 95% CI, 1.33-3.93; P = .003) and an elevated creatinine level (HR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.19-3.08; P = .008) were associated with increased mortality. Correction for duration of VV-ECMO support, arterial thrombosis alone (HR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.5-5.9; P = .002) or circuit thrombosis alone (HR, 3.9; 95% CI, 2.4-6.3; P < .001) but not venous thrombosis increased mortality. MB during ECMO had a 3-fold risk (95% CI, 2.6-5.8, P < .001) of mortality. The first wave cohort had more males (76.7% vs 64%; P = .014), higher 180-day survival (71.1% vs 53.3%; P = .003), more venous thrombosis alone (46.4% vs 29.2%; P = .02), and lower circuit thrombosis (9.2% vs 28.1%; P < .001). The second wave cohort received more steroids (121/150 [80.6%] vs 86/159 [54.1%]; P < .0001) and tocilizumab (20/150 [13.3%] vs 4/159 [2.5%]; P = .005). Conclusion: MB and thrombosis are frequent complications in patients on VV-ECMO and significantly increase mortality. Arterial thrombosis alone or circuit thrombosis alone increased mortality, while venous thrombosis alone had no effect. MB during ECMO support increased mortality by 3.9-fold.
  • Mechanisms of acute right ventricular injury in cardiothoracic surgical and critical care settings: part 2

    Yusuff, Hakeem; Zochios, Vasileios (22/07/2023)
    The right ventricle (RV) is intricately linked in the clinical presentation of critical illness; however, the basis of this is not well-understood and has not been studied as extensively as the left ventricle. There has been an increased awareness of the need to understand how the RV is affected in different critical illness states. In addition, the increased use of point-of-care echocardiography in the critical care setting has allowed for earlier identification and monitoring of the RV in a patient who is critically ill. The first part of this review describes and characterizes the RV in different perioperative states. This second part of the review discusses and analyzes the complex pathophysiologic relationships between the RV and different critical care states. There is a lack of a universal RV injury definition because it represents a range of abnormal RV biomechanics and phenotypes. The term "RV injury" (RVI) has been used to describe a spectrum of presentations, which includes diastolic dysfunction (early injury), when the RV retains the ability to compensate, to RV failure (late or advanced injury). Understanding the mechanisms leading to functional 'uncoupling' between the RV and the pulmonary circulation may enable perioperative physicians, intensivists, and researchers to identify clinical phenotypes of RVI. This, consequently, may provide the opportunity to test RV-centric hypotheses and potentially individualize therapies.
  • Anesthetic challenges of pregnant obesity women

    Knight, Georgia; Mushambi, Mary (2023-08-11)
    Obesity causes significant morbidity and increases the mortality risk for both mother and fetus. With an increasing projected prevalence, it is vital that the obstetric anesthetist is equipped with the knowledge and tools to manage these women. A multi-disciplinary team approach and early planning is required. Neuraxial analgesia for labor helps to negate the need for general anesthesia, which is associated with increased risk in this subset of women. Catheter techniques for neuraxial anesthesia allow for titration, manipulation, and prolongation of the anesthetic block to reduce the risk of conversion to general anesthesia.
  • Con: artificial intelligence-derived algorithms to guide perioperative blood management decision making

    Yusuff, Hakeem; Zochios, Vasileios (2023-10)
    Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve the care that is given to patients; however, the predictive models created are only as good as the base data used in their design. Perioperative blood management presents a complex clinical conundrum in which significant variability and the unstructured nature of the required data make it difficult to develop precise prediction models. There is a potential need for training clinicians to ensure they can interrogate the system and override when errors occur. Current systems created to predict perioperative blood transfusion are not generalizable across clinical settings, and there is a considerable cost implication required to research and develop artificial intelligence systems that would disadvantage resource-poor health systems. In addition, a lack of strong regulation currently means it is difficult to prevent bias.
  • Pulling the plug on a pseudomonas outbreak: ancillary equipment as vectors of infection

    Veater, James; Manning, Claire; Mellon, John; Collins, Elizabeth; Jenkins, David (2023-08-08)
    Objectives: Outbreaks of infection related to flexible endoscopes are well described. However, flexible endoscopy also requires the use of ancillary equipment such as irrigation plugs. These are potential vectors of infection but are infrequently highlighted in the literature. We report a cystoscopy associated outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from contaminated irrigation plugs, in a UK tertiary care centre. Methods: Laboratory, clinical, and decontamination unit records were reviewed, and audits of the decontamination unit were performed. The flexible cystoscopes and irrigation plugs were assessed for contamination. Retrospective and prospective case finding was performed utilising the microbiology laboratory information management system. Available P.aeruginosa isolates underwent Variable Nucleotide Tandem Repeat (VNTR) typing. Confirmed cases were defined as P.aeruginosa infection with an identical VNTR profile to an outbreak strain. Results: Three strains of P.aeruginosa were isolated from five irrigation plugs, but none of the flexible cystoscopes. No acquired resistance mechanisms were detected. Fifteen confirmed infections occurred, including bacteraemia, septic arthritis and urinary tract infection. While failure of decontamination likely occurred because the plugs were not dismantled prior to reprocessing, the manufacturer's reprocessing instructions were also incompatible with standard UK practice. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) were informed. A field safety notice was issued, and the manufacturer issued updated reprocessing instructions. Conclusions: Ancillary equipment are important vectors for infection, and should be considered during outbreakinvestigations. Users should review the manufacturer's instructions for reprocessing ancillary equipment to ensure they are compatible with available procedures.
  • The use of processed electroencephalography (pEEG) in obstetric anaesthesia: a narrative review

    Corner, Henry (2023-03-06)
    Accidental awareness under general anaesthesia (AAGA) remains a major complication of anaesthesia. The incidence of AAGA during obstetric anaesthesia is high relative to other specialities. The use of processed electroencephalography (pEEG) in the form of "depth of anaesthesia" monitoring has been shown to reduce the incidence of AAGA in the non-obstetric population. The evidence for using pEEG to prevent AAGA in the obstetric population is poor and requires further exploration. Furthermore, pregnancy and disease states affecting the central nervous system, such as pre-eclampsia, may alter the interpretation of pEEG waveforms although this has not been fully characterised. National guidelines exist for pEEG monitoring with total intravenous anaesthesia and for "high-risk" cases regardless of technique, including the obstetric population. However, none of the currently available guidelines relates specifically to obstetric anaesthesia. Using pEEG monitoring for obstetric anaesthesia may also provide additional benefits beyond a reduction in risk of AAGA. These potential benefits include reduced postoperative nausea and vomiting, reduced anaesthetic agent use, and a shorter post-anaesthetic recovery stay. In addition, pEEG acts as a surrogate marker of cerebral perfusion, and thus as an additional monitor for impending cardiovascular collapse, as seen in amniotic fluid embolism. The subtle physiological and pathological changes in EEG activity that may occur during pregnancy are an unexplored research area in the context of anaesthetic pEEG monitors. We believe that the direction of clinical practice is moving towards greater use of pEEG monitoring and individualisation of anaesthesia.
  • Sedation and analgesia for reduction of pediatric ileocolic intussusception

    Roland, Damian (2023-06-07)
    Importance: Ileocolic intussusception is an important cause of intestinal obstruction in children. Reduction of ileocolic intussusception using air or fluid enema is the standard of care. This likely distressing procedure is usually performed without sedation or analgesia, but practice variation exists. Objective: To characterize the prevalence of opioid analgesia and sedation and assess their association with intestinal perforation and failed reduction. Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study reviewed medical records of children aged 4 to 48 months with attempted reduction of ileocolic intussusception at 86 pediatric tertiary care institutions in 14 countries from January 2017 to December 2019. Of 3555 eligible medical records, 352 were excluded, and 3203 medical records were eligible. Data were analyzed in August 2022. Exposures: Reduction of ileocolic intussusception. Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcomes were opioid analgesia within 120 minutes of reduction based on the therapeutic window of IV morphine and sedation immediately before reduction of intussusception. Results: We included 3203 patients (median [IQR] age, 17 [9-27] months; 2054 of 3203 [64.1%] males). Opioid use was documented in 395 of 3134 patients (12.6%), sedation 334 of 3161 patients (10.6%), and opioids plus sedation in 178 of 3134 patients (5.7%). Perforation was uncommon and occurred in 13 of 3203 patients (0.4%). In the unadjusted analysis, opioids plus sedation (odds ratio [OR], 5.92; 95% CI, 1.28-27.42; P = .02) and a greater number of reduction attempts (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.03-2.11; P = .03) were significantly associated with perforation. In the adjusted analysis, neither of these covariates remained significant. Reductions were successful in 2700 of 3184 attempts (84.8%). In the unadjusted analysis, younger age, no pain assessment at triage, opioids, longer duration of symptoms, hydrostatic enema, and gastrointestinal anomaly were significantly associated with failed reduction. In the adjusted analysis, only younger age (OR, 1.05 per month; 95% CI, 1.03-1.06 per month; P < .001), shorter duration of symptoms (OR, 0.96 per hour; 95% CI, 0.94-0.99 per hour; P = .002), and gastrointestinal anomaly (OR, 6.50; 95% CI, 2.04-20.64; P = .002) remained significant. Conclusions and relevance: This cross-sectional study of pediatric ileocolic intussusception found that more than two-thirds of patients received neither analgesia nor sedation. Neither was associated with intestinal perforation or failed reduction, challenging the widespread practice of withholding analgesia and sedation for reduction of ileocolic intussusception in children.
  • Management of severe peri-operative bleeding: Guidelines from the European Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care: Second update 2022

    Ahmed, Aamer (2023-04)
    Background: Management of peri-operative bleeding is complex and involves multiple assessment tools and strategies to ensure optimal patient care with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality. These updated guidelines from the European Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (ESAIC) aim to provide an evidence-based set of recommendations for healthcare professionals to help ensure improved clinical management. Design: A systematic literature search from 2015 to 2021 of several electronic databases was performed without language restrictions. Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used to assess the methodological quality of the included studies and to formulate recommendations. A Delphi methodology was used to prepare a clinical practice guideline. Results: These searches identified 137 999 articles. All articles were assessed, and the existing 2017 guidelines were revised to incorporate new evidence. Sixteen recommendations derived from the systematic literature search, and four clinical guidances retained from previous ESAIC guidelines were formulated. Using the Delphi process on 253 sentences of guidance, strong consensus (>90% agreement) was achieved in 97% and consensus (75 to 90% agreement) in 3%. Discussion: Peri-operative bleeding management encompasses the patient's journey from the pre-operative state through the postoperative period. Along this journey, many features of the patient's pre-operative coagulation status, underlying comorbidities, general health and the procedures that they are undergoing need to be taken into account. Due to the many important aspects in peri-operative nontrauma bleeding management, guidance as to how best approach and treat each individual patient are key. Understanding which therapeutic approaches are most valuable at each timepoint can only enhance patient care, ensuring the best outcomes by reducing blood loss and, therefore, overall morbidity and mortality. Conclusion: All healthcare professionals involved in the management of patients at risk for surgical bleeding should be aware of the current therapeutic options and approaches that are available to them. These guidelines aim to provide specific guidance for bleeding management in a variety of clinical situations.
  • Effect of a continuous perineural levobupivacaine infusion on pain after major lower limb amputation: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial

    Thompson, Jonathan (2023-02-10)
    Objectives: Randomised controlled trial of the effect of a perineural infusion of levobupivacaine on moderate/severe phantom limb pain 6 months after major lower limb amputation. Setting: Single-centre, UK university hospital. Participants: Ninety patients undergoing above-knee and below-knee amputation for chronic limb threatening ischaemia under general anaesthesia. Exclusion criteria were patients having surgery under neuraxial anaesthesia; inability to operate a patient-controlled analgesia device or complete a Visual Analogue Scale; amputation for trauma or malignancy; or contraindication to levobupivacaine. Interventions: Either levobupivacaine 0.125% or saline 0.9% (10 mL bolus, infusion of 8 mL/hour for 96 hours) via a sciatic or posterior tibial nerve sheath catheter placed under direct vision during surgery. Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the presence of phantom limb pain, residual limb pain and phantom limb sensations up to 6 months after amputation. Secondary outcome measures included early postoperative pain and morphine requirements after surgery. Results: Data from 81 participants were analysed; 6-month follow-up data were available for 62 patients. Pain and morphine requirements varied widely before and after amputation in both groups. The incidences of moderate/severe phantom limb pain, residual limb pain and phantom limb sensations were low from 6 weeks with no significant differences between groups in phantom limb pain at rest (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.14 to 2.14, p=0.394) or movement (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.15 to 2.21, p=0.425) at 6 months. Early postoperative pain scores were low in both groups with no between-group differences in residual limb pain or phantom limb sensations (rest or movement) at any time point. High postoperative morphine consumption was associated with worsening phantom limb pain both at rest (-17.51, 95% CI -24.29 to -10.74; p<0.001) and on movement (-18.54, 95% CI -25.58 to -11.49; p<0.001). The incidence of adverse effects related to the study was low in both groups: postoperative nausea, vomiting and sedation scores were similar, and there were no features of local anaesthetic toxicity. Conclusions: Long-term phantom limb pain, residual limb pain and phantom limb sensations were not reduced significantly by perineural infusion of levobupivacaine, although the study was underpowered to show significant differences in the primary outcome. The incidence of phantom limb pain was lower than previously reported, possibly attributable to frequent assessment and early intervention to identify and treat postoperative pain when it occurred. There were large variations in postoperative pain scores, high requirements for analgesics before and after surgery and some problems maintaining recruitment and long -term follow-up. Knowledge of these potential problems should inform future research in this group of patients. Further work should investigate the association between perioperative morphine requirements and late phantom limb pain.
  • Haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets: Diagnosis and management in critical care

    Poimenidi, Evangelia; Archer, Natasha (2021-06-17)
    A thirty-year-old pregnant woman was admitted to hospital with headache and gastrointestinal discomfort. She developed peripheral oedema and had an emergency caesarean section following an episode of tonic-clonic seizures. Her delivery was further complicated by postpartum haemorrhage and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for further resuscitation and seizure control which required infusions of magnesium and multiple anticonvulsants. Despite haemodynamic optimisation she developed an acute kidney injury with evidence of liver damage, thrombocytopenia and haemolysis. Haemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets (HELLP) syndrome, a multisystem disease of advanced pregnancy which overlaps with pre-eclampsia, was diagnosed. HELLP syndrome is associated with a range of complications which may require critical care support, including placental abruption and foetal loss, acute kidney injury, microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, acute liver failure and liver capsule rupture. Definitive treatment of HELLP is delivery of the fetus and in its most severe forms requires admission to the ICU for multiorgan support. Therapeutic strategies in ICU are mainly supportive and include blood pressure control, meticulous fluid balance and possibly escalation to renal replacement therapy, mechanical ventilation, neuroprotection, seizure control, and management of liver failure-related complications. Multidisciplinary input is essential for optimal treatment.

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