Sepsis

Sepsis (/ˈsɛpsɨs/, from Gr. σῆψις: the state of putrefaction or decay) is a potentially deadly medical condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state (called a systemic inflammatory response syndrome or SIRS) and the presence of a known or suspected infection. The body may develop this inflammatory response by the immune system to microbes in the blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues. A lay term for sepsis is blood poisoning, also used to describe septicaemia. Severe sepsis is the systemic inflammatory response, plus infection, plus the presence of organ dysfunction.

Septicemia (also septicaemia or septicæmia [ˌsɛp.tə.ˈsi.miə],) is a related medical term referring to the presence of pathogenic organisms in the bloodstream, leading to sepsis. The term has not been sharply defined. It has been inconsistently used in the past by medical professionals, for example as a synonym of bacteremia, causing some confusion.

Severe sepsis is usually treated in the intensive care unit with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. If fluid replacement isn't sufficient to maintain blood pressure, specific vasopressor medications can be used. Mechanical ventilation and dialysis may be needed to support the function of the lungs and kidneys, respectively. To guide therapy, a central venous catheter and an arterial catheter may be placed; measurement of other hemodynamic variables (such as cardiac output, or mixed venous oxygen saturation) may also be used. Sepsis patients require preventive measures for deep vein thrombosis, stress ulcers and pressure ulcers, unless other conditions prevent this. Some patients might benefit from tight control of blood sugar levels with insulin (targeting stress hyperglycemia), or low-dose corticosteroids. Activated drotrecogin alfa (recombinant protein C) has not been found to be helpful, and has recently been withdrawn from sale.

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