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Sepsis Treatment Offers Lifesaving Potential

Blood-cleansing therapy used in Japan warrants further study: researchers

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- A device designed to filter bacteria-produced toxins from the blood of patients with severe sepsis or septic shock appears to improve blood circulation and organ function and lower the risk of death, a preliminary study suggests.

Italian researchers tested whether using a polymyxin B fiber column -- an antibiotic-based hemoperfusion device -- with conventional therapy would improve patient outcomes. Polymyxin B is an antibiotic, and hemoperfusion is blood filtering to remove toxins.

The study included 64 patients with severe sepsis or septic shock who had emergency surgery for intra-abdominal infection. The patients were randomly selected to receive either conventional therapy or conventional therapy plus two sessions of polymyxin B hemoperfusion.

After 28 days, the death rate was 32 percent in the polymyxin B hemoperfusion group and 53 percent in the group that received conventional therapy alone.

The study appears in the June 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Larger multicenter studies are indicated to confirm these encouraging findings in other patient populations," the Italian researchers wrote.

The therapy used in this study is common in Japan, but not in the United States, according to an accompanying editorial written by Dr. John A. Kellum, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Dr. Shigehiko Uchino, of the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

Even though preliminary, the findings "suggest a number of interesting hypotheses and should provoke further study. This is essential given the significant ongoing problem that sepsis represents," they wrote.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about sepsis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, June 16, 2009

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