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Online ISSN 1827-1596
APHP-Service de Réanimation Médicale, Groupe Hospitalier Mondor, Créteil, France
Fever is a common symptom of sepsis usually believed to predict better survival. Experimental data suggest that body temperature elevation may slow micro-organism growth and enhance host immune responses. In patients with sepsis, however, the high energy cost of fever may exacerbate the life-threatening situation. Fever control is widely used in the ICU, mainly in patients with infections. The efficacy of antipyretic drugs in lowering body temperature remains uncertain, however, and all antipyretics have well known adverse effects. Surface cooling methods are efficient but require sedation to avoid the harmful effects of shivering. A recent controlled trial in patients with septic shock suggests that external cooling for fever control may diminish vasopressor requirements and improve early survival. In this review, we examine the benefits and risks of fever and of controlled normothermia. The fever control modalities that provide the best risk/benefit ratio in sepsis are discussed.