Purpose of review
We reviewed the recent advances in the initial approach to resuscitation of sepsis and septic shock patients.
Sepsis and septic shock are life-threatening emergencies. Two key interventions in the first hour include timely antibiotic therapy and resuscitation. Before any laboratory results, the need for resuscitation is considered if a patient with suspected infection has low blood pressure (BP) or impaired peripheral circulation found at clinical examination. Until now, this early resuscitation in sepsis and septic shock was supported by improvements in outcome seen with goal-directed therapy. However, three recent, goal-directed therapy trials failed to replicate the originally reported mortality reductions, prompting a debate on how this early resuscitation should be performed. As resuscitation is often focussed on macrociculatory goals such as optimizing central venous pressure, the discordance between microcirculatory and macrocirculatory optimization during resuscitation is a potential argument for the lack of outcome benefit in the newer trials. Vasoactive drug dose and large volume resuscitation-associated-positive fluid balance, are independently associated with worse clinical outcomes in critically ill sepsis and septic shock patients. As lower BP targets and restricted volume resuscitation are feasible and well tolerated, should we consider a lower BP target to reduce the adverse effects of catecholamine’ and excess resuscitation fluids. Evidence guiding fluids, vasopressor, and inotrope selection remains limited.
Though the early resuscitation of sepsis and septic shock is key to improving outcomes, ideal resuscitation targets are elusive. Distinction should be drawn between microcirculatory and macrocirculatory changes, and corresponding targets. Common components of resuscitation bundles such as large volume resuscitation and high-dose vasopressors may not be universally beneficial. Microcirculatory targets, individualized resuscitation goals, and reassessment of completed trials using the updated septic shock criteria should be focus areas for future research.