Persistent organ dysfunction after severe sepsis: A systematic review

Faheem W. Guirgis, Jay D. Khadpe, Gretchen M. Kuntz, Robert L. Wears, Colleen J. Kalynych, Alan E. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Sepsis is a prevalent disease with high mortality. Survivors of sepsis often suffer significant resultant morbidity, including organ dysfunction. However, little is known about persistent or long-term organ dysfunction in this patient population. Our objective was to systematically review original research studies evaluating organ-specific outcomes at 28 days or greater in patients surviving severe sepsis. Methods: We performed a systematic review of studies reporting organ-specific outcomes at 28 days or greater in survivors of severe sepsis. Results: We identified 1,173 articles and five met our inclusion criteria. No study reported on organ dysfunction at greater than 30 days. Two studies contributed the majority of patients and had consistent rates of 1 month organ dysfunction for adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (8%-9%), renal (7%-8%), hepatic (3%-7%), and central nervous system (2%-5%). Another study reported higher rates of dysfunction for pulmonary (non-ARDS and ARDS), hepatic and renal but similar rates for central nervous system and disseminated intravascular coagulation when compared to the first two studies. The most recent study had the highest rates of dysfunction (>. 47%) across all organ systems. For organ failure resolution the rates were highly variable. Conclusions: Our review found variable rates of organ dysfunction at 1 month after severe sepsis. Future studies should attempt to characterize organ dysfunction at greater than 1 month after an acute severe sepsis episode to determine the true prevalence long-term organ dysfunction and treatments for prevention. Additionally, standardized objective measures of organ dysfunction are needed so that future studies can be directly compared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Long-term organ dysfunction
  • Long-term outcomes
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Organ failure
  • Sepsis survival
  • Septic shock
  • Severe sepsis


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