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August 1992

Postinjury Shock and Early Bacteremia: A Lethal Combination

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery (Drs F. Moore, E. Moore, Poggetti, and Read), Denver (Colo) General Hospital; and Department of Surgery, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver (Drs F. Moore, E. Moore, and Read).

Arch Surg. 1992;127(8):893-898. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420080027004

• Gut bacteria translocation has been invoked as a prime cause of early postinjury death. To examine this hypothesis, we obtained emergency department blood cultures in 132 acutely injured patients requiring urgent laparotomy for trauma. In the latter half of these patients, mesenteric lymph node and liver biopsy cultures were also performed. The incidence of early bacteremia was 11% (10/94) in the patients without shock compared with 32% (12/38) in the group with shock. The majority (73%) were gram-positive bacteremias. Most notably, Staphylococcus was isolated in 13% (5/38) of the patients with shock, but these isolates were of no apparent clinical significance. In contrast, 18% (7/38) of the patients with shock had enteric bacteremias, and all of these patients died. Cultures were positive in 11% of the liver samples and 15% of the mesenteric lymph nodes. With the exception of two patients with concurrent enteric bacteremias, these hepatic and mesenteric lymph node bacteria were of no clinical significance. In conclusion, bacterial translocation occurs infrequently, and virtually all enteric bacteria were found in dying patients; the cause or effect remains to be defined.

(Arch Surg. 1992;127:893-898)