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Pathophysiology of septic shock 

Pathophysiology of septic shock
Pathophysiology of septic shock

John M. Litell

and Nathan I. Shapiro

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date: 16 February 2020

The pathophysiology of sepsis is the result of a dysregulated host response to infection. Interactions between conserved pathogenic signals and host recognition systems initiate a systemic reaction to local infection. Pro- and anti-inflammatory intermediates and associated coagulatory abnormalities lead to altered macrovascular, microvascular, and mitochondrial function. Uncorrected, these processes yield similar patterns of failure in multiple organ systems. Mortality increases with successive organ failures. Although commonly thought to be a manifestation of impaired renal circulation, septic acute kidney injury may be due primarily to non-haemodynamic factors. Pulmonary parenchymal dysfunction in sepsis also contributes to failures in other organ systems. Sepsis involves complex alterations in myocardial function, vascular tone, and capillary integrity, which are mediated by elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines, inducible nitric oxide, and reactive oxygen species, among others. Gut hypomotility and translocation of enteric flora likely contribute to a persistent inflammatory response. This perpetuates the pathophysiological pattern of sepsis, and can lead to the delayed onset of these features in patients with other types of critical illness. The neurological manifestations of sepsis include acquired delirium, which is also probably due to circulatory and inflammatory abnormalities, as well as alterations in cerebral amino acid metabolism. Critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency and derangements in glucose metabolism are among the endocrine abnormalities commonly seen in septic patients. Restoration of homeostasis requires early haemodynamic resuscitation and aggressive infectious source control.

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