Background: The elevated serum and peritoneal cytokine concentrations responsible for the systemic response syndrome (SIRS) and multiorgan failure in patients with severe acute pancreatitis lead to high morbidity and mortality rates. Prompted by reports underlining the importance of reducing circulating inflammatory mediators in severe acute pancreatitis, we designed this study to evaluate the efficiency of laparotomy followed by continuous perioperative peritoneal lavage combined with postoperative continuous venovenous diahemofiltration (CVVDH) in managing critically ill patients refractory to intensive care therapy. As the major clinical outcome variables we measured morbidity, mortality and changes in the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) score and cytokine concentrations in serum and peritoneal lavage fluid over time.
Methods: From a consecutive group of 23 patients hospitalized for acute pancreatitis, we studied 6 patients all with Apache II scores >/=19, who underwent emergency surgery for acute complications (5 for an abdominal compartment syndrome and 1 for septic shock) followed by continuous perioperative peritoneal lavage and postoperative CVVDH. CVVDH was started within 12 hours after surgery and maintained for at least 72 hours, until the multiorgan dysfunction syndrome improved. Samples were collected from serum, peritoneal lavage fluid and CVVDH dialysate for cytokine assay. Apache II scores were measured daily and their association with cytokine levels was assessed.
Results: All six patients tolerated CVVDH well, and the procedure lasted a mean 6 days (range, 3-12). Five patients survived and one died of Acinetobacter infection after surgery (mortality rate 16.6%). The mean APACHE II score was >/= 19 (range 19-22) before laparotomy and decreased significantly during peritoneal lavage and postoperative CVVDH (P = 0.013 by matched-pairs Students t-test). The decrease in cytokine concentrations in serum and lavage fluid was associated with the decrease in APACHE II scores and high interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) concentrations in the hemofiltrate.
Conclusion: In critically ill patients with abdominal compartment syndrome, septic shock or high APACHE II scores related to severe acute pancreatitis, combining emergency laparotomy with continuous perioperative peritoneal lavage followed by postoperative CVVHD effectively reduces the local and systemic cytokines responsible for multiorgan dysfunction syndrome thus improving patients' outcome.