Early goal-directed therapy for severe sepsis and septic shock: A living systematic review

J Crit Care. 2016 Dec:36:43-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2016.06.017. Epub 2016 Jun 29.


Studies and meta-analyses conflict regarding the use of early goal-directed therapy (EGDT) for septic shock. We sought to clarify the conflict by performing a living systematic review and meta-regression.

Methods: We performed a meta-analysis and explored heterogeneity with meta-regression. We conformed with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist and qualified strength of evidence with a Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation profile.

Results: Overall, EGDT did not significantly reduce mortality compared with usual care (relative risk, 0.85; 95% confidence interval, 0.67-1.08); however, heterogeneity was substantial (I2=64%; 95% confidence interval, 12%-85%). Illness severity did not correlate with mortality reduction; however, there were significant correlations with control rate mortality and the strategy employed by the control group. Benefit was confined to trials with a control mortality greater than 35%. Compared with monitoring of lactate clearance and central venous pressure, EGDT mortality was higher.

Conclusion: The benefit of EGDT is evident in populations with high mortality, in line with reported global mortality rates. In settings with low mortality the recent trials challenge the need for 6-hour goals; however, most patients in these trials met 3-hour resuscitation goals as defined by the Surviving Sepsis Campaign. In settings with higher mortality, EGDT or normalization of lactate/central venous pressure may be viable therapeutic options.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care
  • Critical Pathways*
  • Humans
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Sepsis / therapy*
  • Shock, Septic / therapy*