Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the physiologic variables that predict major adverse events in children in the intensive care unit after cardiac operations.
Methods: A cohort observational study was conducted. At the time of admission to the intensive care unit and 4, 8, 12, and 24 hours later the following variables were recorded: mean arterial pressure, heart rate, cardiac index, oxygen delivery, mixed venous oxygen saturation, base deficit, blood lactate, gastric intramucosal pH, carbon dioxide difference (the difference between arterial carbon dioxide tension and gastric intraluminal carbon dioxide tension), and toe-core temperature gradient. Major adverse events were prospectively identified as cardiac arrest, need for emergency chest opening, development of multiple organ failure, and death.
Results: Ninety children were included in the study; 12 had major adverse events and there were 4 deaths. Blood lactate level, mean arterial pressure, and duration of cardiopulmonary bypass were the only significant, independent predictors of major adverse events when measured at the time of admission to the intensive care unit. The odds ratio (95% confidence intervals) for major adverse events if a lactate level was greater than 4.5 mmol/L was 5.1 (1.2 to 21.1), for admission hypotension 2.3 (0.5 to 9.8), and for a cardiopulmonary bypass time greater than 150 minutes 13.7 (3.3 to 57.2). Four hours after admission lactate and carbon dioxide difference, and 8 hours after admission lactate and base deficit, were independently significant predictors. The odds ratios for major adverse events if the blood lactate level was greater than 4 mmol/L at 4 and 8 hours were 8.3 (1.8 to 38.4) and 9.3 (1.9 to 44.3), respectively. At no time in the first 24 hours were cardiac output, oxygen delivery, mixed venous oxygen saturation, toe-core temperature gradient, or heart rate significant predictors of major adverse events.
Conclusions: In the context of our current treatment strategies, the duration of cardiopulmonary bypass and blood lactate level, measured in the early postoperative period, were the best predictors of impending major adverse events.