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Drugs. 1993 Mar;45(3):338-52.

Critical care pharmacotherapy. A review.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy, University Hospital Bergmannsheil, Bochum, Federal Republic of Germany.


During recent years, research in critical care medicine has focused on the role of the gastrointestinal tract in the pathogenesis of multiple organ failure and nosocomial infection, and on preventive measures. Gram-negative bacterial overgrowth of the oropharynx and stomach has been proved to be a cause of nosocomial pneumonia. Topical application of antibiotics into the oropharynx and stomach, and preservation of gastric acidity have been shown to be effective prophylaxis in ventilated patients. Recent studies have demonstrated that gastric alkalinisation is no longer necessary for the prevention of stress ulcer bleeding in critically ill patients. Tissue hypoxaemia, not gastric acidity, is the underlying pathomechanism of stress ulcer bleeding. In experimental investigations, pirenzepine and sucralfate improved gastric mucosal oxygen supply. Both compounds effectively prevent bleeding without increasing gastric pH. In mechanically ventilated patients, significantly lower rates of pneumonia occur with both of these drugs compared with antacids or histamine H2-receptor antagonists. Topical antibiotics (selective digestive decontamination) are most effective in patients with alkaline gastric juice, but of only marginal clinical relevance in those with acidic gastric contents. Isoflurane, propofol and clonidine have been recently investigated for sedation of ventilated patients. Isoflurane may lead to fluoride accumulation after more than 1 day. Propofol dosage has to be increased more often after 4 to 7 days, leading to fat overload and significantly increased costs. Clonidine was highly effective in patients with 'sympathetic overshoot', e.g. those experiencing alcohol or opioid withdrawal. Wound infections are an important problem in burn patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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