, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 147-157,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Dec 2010

Intensive care unit—acquired weakness (ICUAW) and muscle wasting in critically ill patients with severe sepsis and septic shock

Abstract

Sepsis presents a major health care problem and remains one of the leading causes of death within the intensive care unit (ICU). Therapeutic approaches against severe sepsis and septic shock focus on early identification. Adequate source control, administration of antibiotics, preload optimization by fluid resuscitation and further hemodynamic stabilisation using vasopressors whenever appropriate are considered pivotal within the early—golden—hours of sepsis. However, organ dysfunction develops frequently in and represents a significant comorbidity of sepsis. A considerable amount of patients with sepsis will show signs of severe muscle wasting and/or ICU-acquired weakness (ICUAW), which describes a frequently observed complication in critically ill patients and refers to clinically weak ICU patients in whom there is no plausible aetiology other than critical illness. Some authors consider ICUAW as neuromuscular organ failure, caused by dysfunction of the motor unit, which consists of peripheral nerve, neuromuscular junction and skeletal muscle fibre. Electrophysiologic and/or biopsy studies facilitate further subclassification of ICUAW as critical illness myopathy, critical illness polyneuropathy or critical illness myoneuropathy, their combination. ICUAW may protract weaning from mechanical ventilation and impede rehabilitation measures, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. This review provides an insight on the available literature on sepsis-mediated muscle wasting, ICUAW and their potential pathomechanisms.