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Fluid balance and cardiac function in septic shock as predictors of hospital mortality

Scott T Micek1, Colleen McEvoy2, Matthew McKenzie1, Nicholas Hampton3, Joshua A Doherty4 and Marin H Kollef2*

Author Affiliations

1 St. Louis College of Pharmacy, 4588 Parkview Place, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

2 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8052, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

3 BJC Center for Clinical Excellence, 4901 Forest Park Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA

4 Medical Informatics, BJC Learning Institute, 8300 Eager Road, St. Louis, MO 63144, USA

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Critical Care 2013, 17:R246  doi:10.1186/cc13072

Published: 20 October 2013



Septic shock is a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Unfortunately, the optimal fluid management of septic shock is unknown and currently is empirical.


A retrospective analysis was performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (St. Louis, Missouri). Consecutive patients (n = 325) hospitalized with septic shock who had echocardiographic examinations performed within 24 hours of shock onset were enrolled.


A total of 163 (50.2%) patients with septic shock died during hospitalization. Non-survivors had a significantly larger positive net fluid balance within the 24 hour window of septic shock onset (median (IQR): 4,374 ml (1,637 ml, 7,260 ml) vs. 2,959 ml (1,639.5 ml, 4,769.5 ml), P = 0.004). The greatest quartile of positive net fluid balance at 24 hours and eight days post-shock onset respectively were found to predict hospital mortality, and the greatest quartile of positive net fluid balance at eight days post-shock onset was an independent predictor of hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 1.66; 95% CI, 1.39 to 1.98; P = 0.004). Survivors were significantly more likely to have mild left ventricular dysfunction as evaluated by bedside echocardiography and non-survivors had slightly elevated left ventricular ejection fraction, which was also found to be an independent predictor of outcome.


Our data confirms the importance of fluid balance and cardiac function as outcome predictors in patients with septic shock. A clinical trial to determine the optimal administration of intravenous fluids to patients with septic shock is needed.