Sepsis Associated Encephalopathy

Adv Med. 2014:2014:762320. doi: 10.1155/2014/762320. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Abstract

Sepsis associated encephalopathy (SAE) is a common but poorly understood neurological complication of sepsis. It is characterized by diffuse brain dysfunction secondary to infection elsewhere in the body without overt CNS infection. The pathophysiology of SAE is complex and multifactorial including a number of intertwined mechanisms such as vascular damage, endothelial activation, breakdown of the blood brain barrier, altered brain signaling, brain inflammation, and apoptosis. Clinical presentation of SAE may range from mild symptoms such as malaise and concentration deficits to deep coma. The evaluation of cognitive dysfunction is made difficult by the absence of any specific investigations or biomarkers and the common use of sedation in critically ill patients. SAE thus remains diagnosis of exclusion which can only be made after ruling out other causes of altered mentation in a febrile, critically ill patient by appropriate investigations. In spite of high mortality rate, management of SAE is limited to treatment of the underlying infection and symptomatic treatment for delirium and seizures. It is important to be aware of this condition because SAE may present in early stages of sepsis, even before the diagnostic criteria for sepsis can be met. This review discusses the diagnostic approach to patients with SAE along with its epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and differential diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review