Septic shock in patients with cirrhosis: hemodynamic and metabolic characteristics and intensive care unit outcome

Crit Care Med. 1992 Jun;20(6):746-50. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199206000-00008.


Objectives: To examine the hemodynamic and metabolic characteristics and ICU outcome of septic shock in patients with cirrhosis.

Design: Prospective, comparative study. Measurements performed in the first 24 hrs of septic shock.

Setting: A general hospital ICU.

Patients: Twelve patients with cirrhosis and 23 patients without cirrhosis admitted for septic shock.

Measurements and main results: Arterial pressure was measured using an arterial catheter. Pulmonary arterial and right atrial pressures were measured by using a pulmonary artery catheter. Cardiac output was determined by using the thermodilution method. Pulmonary arterial L-lactate plasma concentrations were measured using an automated spectrophotometer, and blood temperature was measured using a cardiac output computer. Arterial and mixed venous PO2, PCO2, and pH values were measured by using specific electrodes. Oxygen saturations and hemoglobin concentrations were measured using a hemoximeter. Patients with cirrhosis had decompensated liver disease (grade C of the Child-Pugh classification). The number of Gram-negative infections and therapeutic interventions were similar in both groups. Patients with cirrhosis had higher cardiac indices (5.14 +/- 0.52 [SE] vs. 3.91 +/- 0.30 L/min/m2, p less than .05), plasma lactate concentrations (9.0 +/- 2.0 vs. 5.2 +/- 0.7 mmol/L, p less than .05) and ICU mortality rates (100% vs. 43%, p less than .05), and lower blood temperatures (35.5 +/- 0.6 vs. 37.6 +/- 0.2 degrees C, p less than .05) than patients without cirrhosis. Systemic vascular resistance, arterial pressure, pulmonary arterial pressure, oxygen delivery and consumption, and arterial and mixed venous acid-base status were not significantly different between the two groups.

Conclusions: In patients with cirrhosis, septic shock was characterized by severe liver dysfunction, low blood temperature, marked increases in cardiac index and lactic acidemia, and a 100% ICU mortality rate. These findings should be taken into account if patients with cirrhosis are to be included in controlled studies on septic shock.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Critical Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lactic Acid
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shock, Septic / blood
  • Shock, Septic / mortality
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Oxygen