Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 958–964 | Cite as

Capillary refill time exploration during septic shock

  • H. Ait-OufellaEmail author
  • N. Bige
  • P. Y. Boelle
  • C. Pichereau
  • M. Alves
  • R. Bertinchamp
  • J. L. Baudel
  • A. Galbois
  • E. Maury
  • B. Guidet



During septic shock management, the evaluation of microvascular perfusion by skin analysis is of interest. We aimed to study the skin capillary refill time (CRT) in a selected septic shock population.


We conducted a prospective observational study in a tertiary teaching hospital. After a preliminary study to calculate CRT reproducibility, all consecutive patients with septic shock during a 10-month period were included. After initial resuscitation at 6 h (H6), we recorded hemodynamic parameters and analyzed their predictive value on 14-day mortality. CRT was measured on the index finger tip and on the knee area.


CRT was highly reproducible with an excellent inter-rater concordance calculated at 80 % [73–86] for index CRT and 95 % [93–98] for knee CRT. A total of 59 patients were included, SOFA score was 10 [7–14], SAPS II was 61 [50–78] and 14-day mortality rate was 36 %. CRT measured at both sites was significantly higher in non-survivors compared to survivors (respectively 5.6 ± 3.5 vs 2.3 ± 1.8 s, P < 0.0001 for index CRT and 7.6 ± 4.6 vs 2.9 ± 1.7 s, P < 0.0001 for knee CRT). The CRT at H6 was strongly predictive of 14-day mortality as the area under the curve was 84 % [75–94] for the index measurement and was 90 % [83–98] for the knee area. A threshold of index CRT at 2.4 s predicted 14-day outcome with a sensitivity of 82 % (95 % CI [60–95]) and a specificity of 73 % (95 % CI [56–86]). A threshold of knee CRT at 4.9 s predicted 14-day outcome with a sensitivity of 82 % (95 % CI [60–95]) and a specificity of 84 % (95 % CI [68–94]). CRT was significantly related to tissue perfusion parameters such as arterial lactate level and SOFA score. Finally, CRT changes during shock resuscitation were significantly associated with prognosis.


CRT is a clinical reproducible parameter when measured on the index finger tip or the knee area. After initial resuscitation of septic shock, CRT is a strong predictive factor of 14-day mortality.


Shock Microcirculation Prognosis Capillary time refill Intensive care medicine 


Conflicts of interest

The authors had no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

134_2014_3326_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (132 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPT 129 kb)
134_2014_3326_MOESM2_ESM.ppt (220 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PPT 216 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Ait-Oufella
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • N. Bige
    • 1
  • P. Y. Boelle
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • C. Pichereau
    • 1
    • 4
  • M. Alves
    • 1
    • 4
  • R. Bertinchamp
    • 1
  • J. L. Baudel
    • 1
  • A. Galbois
    • 1
  • E. Maury
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • B. Guidet
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.AP-HP, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Service de Réanimation MédicaleParis Cedex 12France
  2. 2.Inserm U970, Paris Research Cardiovascular CenterParisFrance
  3. 3.AP-HP, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Service de Santé PubliqueParisFrance
  4. 4.Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6ParisFrance
  5. 5.UMRS 1136ParisFrance

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