Fever in liver transplant recipients in the intensive care unit1


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Abstract

Whether febrile illnesses in the intensive care unit (ICU) have unique spectrum, etiologies, and outcome has not been determined in liver transplant recipients. We studied 78 consecutive febrile patients over a 4-yr period; 49% (38/78) were in the ICU and 51% (40/78) were in the non-ICU setting. Of febrile patients in the ICU, 87% (33/38) had infection and 13% had non-infectious etiology for fever. Seventy-nine percent (26/33) of the infections associated with fever in the ICU were bacterial, 9% (3/33) were viral, and 9% (3/33) were fungal in etiology. Pneumonia (30%), catheter-related bacteremia (15%), and biliary tree (9%) were the predominant sources of infections associated with fever in the ICU. Bacteremia was documented in 45% of the patients with fever in the ICU. Fifty-three percent (20/38) of the febrile episodes in the ICU occurred during the initial post-transplant stay, and 47% (18/38) during a subsequent readmission. Pneumonia accounted for 41% of all febrile infections during the first 7 d of ICU stay, but only 14% of those after 7 d. Febrile patients in the ICU had higher APACHE II scores (p = 0.001), higher APS scores (p = 0.0001), higher bilirubin (p = 0.001), lower cholesterol (p = 0.019), higher prothrombin time (p = 0.001), were more tachycardiac (p = 0.002), and were more likely to have abnormal blood pressure (p = 0.001) than those in the non-ICU setting. Twenty-three percent of all infections in the ICU were unaccompanied by fever and 9% were accompanied by hypothermia. Mortality at 14 d (24 versus 0%, p = 0.001) and at 30 d (34 versus 5%, p = 0.001) was significantly higher in febrile patients in the ICU, as compared to the patients in the non-ICU setting. These data have implications for diagnostic evaluation and management of critically ill febrile liver transplant recipients.

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