Following surgery, some patients develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which leads to severe complications. The disease is difficult to treat and results in death in 30 percent of all cases. Predicting who may develop the syndrome is almost impossible, as only three percent of those considered at risk actually develop the disease. US researchers have now developed a method to allow for better identification of patients most at risk. The study was published in "Anesthesiology".
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic analysed data from 1,562 surgical patients considered to have a high risk of developing ARDS because they, for example, suffered from pneumonia or blood infections. 117 people (7.5 percent) developed ARDS.
The researchers identified nine risk factors: sepsis, high-risk aortic and vascular surgery, emergency surgery, liver cirrhosis, increased respiratory rate and admission to hospital from a location other than home (such as a nursing home) as well as two parameters for hypoxemia.
According to the researchers, this allows them to refine previous prediction models for ARDS risk and thereby help to identify high-risk patients prior to surgery and to make provisions. "For example, we may be a bit more conservative in the way we transfuse blood products. We may also ventilate their lungs in a little different way than we might if their risk score was low," said first author Daryl Kor. "We also hope that we might be able to better select a study population for future studies that look at specific prevention strategies."
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