Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 267–274 | Cite as

Jaundice in critical illness: promoting factors of a concealed reality

  • Nicola BrienzaEmail author
  • Lidia Dalfino
  • Gilda Cinnella
  • Caterina Diele
  • Francesco Bruno
  • Tommaso Fiore



In critical illness, liver dysfunction (LD) is associated with a poor outcome independently of other organ dysfunctions. Since strategies to support liver function are not available, a timely and accurate identification of factors promoting LD may lead to prevention or attenuation of its consequences. The aim of this study was to assess risk factors for LD in critically ill patients.


Prospective, observational study.


A multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) of a university hospital.


All patients consecutively admitted over a 6-month period.



Measurements and results

LD was defined as serum bilirubin levels ≥ 2 mg/dl and lasting for at least 48 h. Out of 283 patients, 141 matched inclusion criteria. Forty-four patients (31.2%) showed LD (LD group), while 97 (68.8%) were included in control group (C group). A binomial analysis showed that LD occurrence was associated with moderate (odds ratio [OR] 3.11; p = 0.04) and severe shock (OR 3.46; p = 0.05), sepsis (OR 3.03; p = 0.04), PEEP ventilation (OR 4.25; p = 0.006), major surgery (OR 4.03; p = 0.03), and gram-negative infections (OR 3.94; p = 0.002). In stepwise multivariate analysis, the single independent predictive factors of LD resulted in severe shock (p = 0.002), sepsis (p = 0.03), PEEP ventilation (p = 0.04), and major surgery (p = 0.05).


In critically ill patients jaundice is common, and severe shock states, sepsis, mechanical ventilation with PEEP and major surgery are critical risk factors for its onset. Since there is no specific treatment, prompt resuscitation, treatment of sepsis and meticulous supportive care will likely reduce its incidence and severity.


Hepato-splanchnic haemodynamic ICU jaundice Liver dysfunction PEEP Sepsis Shock 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola Brienza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lidia Dalfino
    • 1
  • Gilda Cinnella
    • 2
  • Caterina Diele
    • 1
  • Francesco Bruno
    • 1
  • Tommaso Fiore
    • 1
  1. 1.Emergency and Organ Transplantation Department, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care UnitUniversity of BariBariItaly
  2. 2.Anaesthesia and Intensive Care UnitUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly

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