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Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2000 Fall;1(3):173-85; discussion 185-6.

Epidemiology of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome in critical surgical illness.

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Department of Surgery, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, USA.


Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in surgical intensive care units (SICUs). Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome remains the most important factor associated with mortality in the SICU. Illness severity scores such as the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation-III (APACHE III) and the magnitude of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) at the time of SICU admission are useful in stratifying patients at risk for MODS and subsequent mortality. Assessment of key organ systems shows that mortality correlates with the overall severity of organ dysfunction and the number of involved organ systems, as well as to individual organs that fail. Despite the prognostic utility of SIRS/MODS, definitions of dysfunction of individual organs have shortcomings. The problem with quantitating MODS lies in the inability to adequately define organ dysfunction, especially of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and central nervous system. Biological indicators of organ dysfunction may prove to be better markers for MODS in the future.

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