Gastrointestinal symptoms in intensive care patients

Reintam, A.; Parm, P.; Kitus, R.; Kern, H.; Starkopf, J. (2009). Gastrointestinal symptoms in intensive care patients. Acta Anaesthesiol. Scand., 53 (3), 318−324.10.1111/j.1399-6576.2008.01860.x.
Reintam, A.; Parm, P.; Kitus, R.; Kern, H.; Starkopf, J.
Acta Anaesthesiol. Scand.
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Reintam, A. Parm, P. Kitus, R. Kern, H. Starkopf, J., Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are not uniformly assessed in intensive care unit (ICU) patients and respective data in available literature are insufficient. We aimed to describe the prevalence, risk factors and importance of different GI symptoms. We prospectively studied all patients hospitalized to the General ICU of Tartu University Hospital in 2004-2007. Of 1374 patients, 62 were excluded due to missing data. Seven hundred and seventy-five (59.1%) patients had at least one GI symptom at least during 1 day of their stay, while 475 (36.2%) suffered from more than one symptom. Absent or abnormal bowel sounds were documented in 542 patients (41.3%), vomiting/regurgitation in 501 (38.2%), high gastric aspirate volume in 298 (22.7%), diarrhoea in 184 (14.0%), bowel distension in 139 (10.6%) and GI bleeding in 97 (7.4%) patients during their ICU stay. Absent or abnormal bowel sounds and GI bleeding were associated with significantly higher mortality. The number of simultaneous GI symptoms was an independent risk factor for ICU mortality. The ICU length of stay and mortality of patients who had two or more GI symptoms simultaneously were significantly higher than in patients with a maximum of one GI symptom. GI symptoms occur frequently in ICU patients. Absence of bowel sounds and GI bleeding are associated with impaired outcome. Prevalence of GI symptoms at the first day in ICU predicts the mortality of the patients.