A growing collection of landmark papers relevant to intensive care and critical care medicine.
These papers are practice changing and hold current, ongoing significance beyond their historical importance.
This is a dynamic and changing document that will be updated, pruned and added to as appropriate. Many of these papers have free full-text provided by the publisher because of their significance.
The Balanced Anesthesia Study is one of the most important upcoming studies for all anaesthetists and anesthesiologists to be aware of. Watch this space...
A cautionary summary of the benefits and potential risks of perineural dexamethasone.
"...there have been no reports of neurotoxicity or complications of any kind attributed to perineural dexamethasone in the nearly 700 patients who have received it in published studies of peripheral nerve blocks ... We must acknowledge that complications in regional anesthesia are rare, and 700 patients are woefully inadequate to declare dexamethasone safe for routine perineural use." (Noss 2014)
Noss concludes that:
- Perineural dexamethasone is probably safe, though conclusive safety evidence is still lacking.
- Systemic effects from IV dex is unlikely to explain the profound block prolongation.
- Prolongation is not enough on its own.
Dexamethasone shows a dose-dependent effect on speeding onset and increasing the duration of analgesia after interscalene block for shoulder surgery.
Dexamethasone doubled the duration of postoperative analgesia after brachial plexus block, as well as speeding onset and reducing PONV.
The potential for dexamethasone and other glucocorticoids to prolong peripheral nerve blocks was first noted almost 20 years ago.
While the effect has been observed with several different blocks (upper & lower extremity, and even TAP blocks), the clinical significance varies and several questions still remain:
Is the effect exclusive to perineural dexamethasone? Several studies have observed similar effects for both IV and perineural dexamethasone (though less profound than other papers).
Is the effect safe? This is perhaps the most concerning, as there are suggestions that the effect may represent an enhancement of the well-known neurotoxicity of local anaesthetic agents.
So if you are going to give dexamethasone anyhow, you might as well throw it in with the local!
In the absence of airway infection, the use of a laryngeal mask airway in children is associated with fewer postop complications than intubation.
Hydroxylethyl starch fluids increase the risk of acute kidney injury in the critically ill, and offer little benefit to general surgical patients.
Hydroxyethyl starches, such as Hespan, Voluven, Volulyte, Tetrahes and Hestar, have been shown in several large trials to increase the risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) and/or the need for renal replacement therapies among critically ill patients, particulalry those suffering sepsis.
Evidence demonstrating harm among fit & healthy surgical patients is however lacking, notably Giles et al could find no increased risk of adverse event among surgical patients in their 2014 meta-analysis. Nonetheless, given the similar lack of demonstrable benefit of HES fluids for this group, avoidance of use in both the ICU and surgical population is prudent.