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, 12 (8), e0182938
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Clinical Signs, Profound Acidemia, Hypoglycemia, and Hypernatremia Are Predictive of Mortality in 1,400 Critically Ill Neonatal Calves With Diarrhea

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Clinical Signs, Profound Acidemia, Hypoglycemia, and Hypernatremia Are Predictive of Mortality in 1,400 Critically Ill Neonatal Calves With Diarrhea

Florian M Trefz et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Profound acidemia impairs cellular and organ function and consequently should be associated with an increased risk of mortality in critically ill humans and animals. Neonatal diarrhea in calves can result in potentially serious metabolic derangements including profound acidemia due to strong ion (metabolic) acidosis, hyper-D-lactatemia, hyper-L-lactatemia, azotemia, hypoglycemia, hyperkalemia and hyponatremia. The aim of this retrospective study was to assess the prognostic relevance of clinical and laboratory findings in 1,400 critically ill neonatal calves with diarrhea admitted to a veterinary teaching hospital. The mortality rate was 22%. Classification tree analysis indicated that mortality was associated with clinical signs of neurologic disease, abdominal emergencies, cachexia, orthopedic problems such as septic arthritis, and profound acidemia (jugular venous blood pH < 6.85). When exclusively considering laboratory parameters, classification tree analysis identified plasma glucose concentrations < 3.2 mmol/L, plasma sodium concentrations ≥ 151 mmol/L, serum GGT activity < 31 U/L and a thrombocyte count < 535 G/L as predictors of mortality. However, multivariable logistic regression models based on these laboratory parameters did not have a sufficiently high enough sensitivity (59%) and specificity (79%) to reliably predict treatment outcome. The sensitivity and specificity of jugular venous blood pH < 6.85 were 11% and 97%, respectively, for predicting non-survival in this study population. We conclude that laboratory values (except jugular venous blood pH < 6.85) are of limited value for predicting outcome in critically ill neonatal calves with diarrhea. In contrast, the presence of specific clinical abnormalities provides valuable prognostic information.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Fig 1
Fig 1. Observed survival rates of 1,400 critically ill neonatal calves with diarrhea in deciles of selected blood gas and acid-base variables.
Dashed vertical lines indicate the reference range of respective variables [7, 46, 51] and the dashed horizontal line indicates the overall survival rate of calves of this study population. Survival rates of decile groups that were significantly different (P ≤ 0.006) from the survival rate of the reference group (arrow) are indicated by asterisks.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Observed survival rates of 1,400 critically ill neonatal calves with diarrhea in deciles of electrolyte, phosphorus, and L-lactate and D-lactate concentrations.
Dashed vertical lines indicate the reference range [40, 46, 51, 52] of respective variables and the dashed horizontal line indicates the overall survival rate of calves of this study population. Survival rates of decile groups that were significantly different (P ≤ 0.006) from the survival rate of the reference group (arrow) are indicated by asterisks.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Observed survival rates of 1,400 critically ill neonatal calves with diarrhea in deciles of selected serum/plasma concentrations or activities.
Dashed vertical lines indicate the reference range [46, 52] of respective variables and the dashed horizontal line indicates the overall survival rate of calves of this study population. Given that calves in the first two weeks of life with serum gamma glutamyltransferase activity < 50 U/L should be classified as having failure of passive transfer of immunoglobulins [53], this cut-point value was chosen as reference range for this parameter. Survival rates of decile groups that were significantly different (P ≤ 0.006) from the survival rate of the reference group (arrow) are indicated by asterisks.
Fig 4
Fig 4. Estimated classification tree identifying significant associations between clinical and laboratory variables and observed mortality.
Each oval identifies a subset of the population, the probability of mortality for the subset, and the number of calves in the subset. Lines leaving the oval identify a study variable and its cutpoint value that is a significant predictor of mortality. Branches to the left indicate subgroups with lower mortality (better outcome), whereas branches to the right indicate subgroups with higher mortality (poorer outcome). Classification tree analysis indicated that observed mortality was associated with the presence of central nervous system disease, ileus or abdominal emergency, a cachectic body condition, presence of orthopedic problems, and a jugular venous blood pH < 6.85.
Fig 5
Fig 5. Estimated classification tree identifying significant associations between laboratory variables and observed mortality.
Each oval identifies a subset of the population, the probability of mortality for the subset, and the number of calves in the subset. Lines leaving the oval identify a study variable and its cutpoint value that is a significant predictor of mortality. Branches to the left indicate subgroups with lower mortality (better outcome), whereas branches to the right indicate subgroups with higher mortality (poorer outcome). Classification tree analysis indicated that observed mortality was associated with plasma glucose concentrations < 3.2 mmol/L, plasma sodium concentrations ≥ 151 mmol/L, GGT activity < 31 U/L and a thrombocyte count < 535 G/L in hypoglycemic calves.

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Grant support

Dr. Florian Trefz was supported by a research grant of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, grant code: TR1321/1-1). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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