This article reviews the current understanding of sepsis, a critical and often fatal illness that results from infection and multiorgan failure and impacts the brain, peripheral nervous system, and muscle.
Encephalopathy occurs early in association with sepsis, and its severity correlates with mortality. Neuroimaging in patients with CNS manifestations is typically normal. EEG is nonspecific. EMG is commonly diagnostic, showing a combination of nerve and muscle injury already early in the clinical course. Rapid recognition and correction of reversible causes of encephalopathy and avoidance of risk factors for intensive care unit–acquired weakness may limit sequelae. Major deficiencies in our understanding of the complications of sepsis remain. Studies to improve the recognition and rehabilitation of these patients are imperative in a clinical syndrome affecting countless patients each year.
The risk of later cognitive and physical disability may be increased after sepsis; therefore, attention to neurologic complications is urgent.
Address correspondence to Dr Sara E. Hocker, Mayo Clinic, 200 1st St Southwest, Rochester, MN 55905, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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