Development of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome in critically ill patients with perforated viscus. Predictive value of APACHE severity scoring

P S Barie, L J Hydo, E Fischer
Archives of Surgery 1996, 131 (1): 37-43

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether scoring on the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III at admission can predict the development of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and mortality in critically ill surgical patients.

DESIGN: Prospective, inception-cohort study.

SETTING: Surgical intensive care unit of an urban, tertiary-care hospital.

PATIENTS: One hundred fourteen critically ill patients with surgically treated perforated gastrointestinal viscus.

INTERVENTIONS: Calculation of APACHE II and APACHE III scores 24 hours after admission to the surgical intensive care unit and serial quantitation of organ dysfunction for the duration of critical care according to two different predefined scoring systems. Patients were stratified by survival, the development of organ dysfunction, and colon vs noncolonic perforation.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Hospital mortality, length of stay in the surgical intensive care unit, and the development of organ dysfunction or overt organ failure.

RESULTS: The mean (+/- SEM) APACHE II and APACHE III scores were 17.4 +/- 0.6 (range, 6 to 37) and 59.0 +/- 2.2 (range, 15 to 141), respectively. The incidence of organ dysfunction was 73% (64% in survivors). All severity scores were identical for colon perforation and noncolonic perforation subgroups. Nonsurvivors invariably had organ dysfunction. Overall length of stay in the intensive care unit was 12.0 +/- 1.6 days (8.7 +/- 1.2 days for survivors and 22.7 +/- 5.0 days for nonsurvivors). The APACHE scores and organ dysfunction or failure scores were significantly higher in nonsurvivors, and APACHE scores were higher in survivors with organ dysfunction than in those without it. Significant linear relationships were identified for APACHE II vs APACHE III scores (R2 = .66) and for all four combinations of APACHE scores and organ dysfunction or failure scores (R2 = .43 to .52). By multivariate analysis of variance, independent predictors of organ dysfunction or failure were APACHE III, increased age, and a prolonged stay in the surgical intensive care unit, but not the type of perforation. Neither APACHE II or APACHE III predicted mortality independently.

CONCLUSIONS: The development of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome correlated with higher APACHE III scores but was independent of the type of perforation. Only the development of overt multiple organ failure predicted death. Combined use of APACHE III and the multiple organ dysfunction score provides improved prediction of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, but further enhancements are needed before prediction of outcome in individual patients is reliable.

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