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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2005 January-February;71(1-2):39-52

language: English, Italian

Sepsis associated encephalopathy

Consales G., De Gaudio A. R

Division of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Hospital Careggi University of Florence, Florence, Italy


A diffuse cerebral dysfunction is often present in sepsis and may ensues even before signs of other organ failure. It is better defined as “Sepsis Associated Encephalopathy” (SAE), in order to stress the absence of direct infection of the central nervous system. The main sign of SAE is an altered mental status. Electroencepha-lography is the more sensitive diagnostic test, and allows the grading of the severity of cerebral dysfunction that is related to outcome. SAE is potentially reversible, but it always worsens the prognosis. Pathophysiology of SAE is not still completely understood, and it is probably multifactorial. Indeed, brain dysfunction in sepsis may be related to action of micro-organisms toxins, to the effects of inflammatory mediators, to metabolic alterations and to abnormalities in cerebral circulation. At this moment a specific treatment for SAE does not exist and outcome relies upon prompt and appropriate treatment of sepsis as a whole.

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