Background: Sepsis remains a common condition with high mortality when multiple organ failure develops. The evidence for therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) in this setting is promising but inconclusive. Our study aims to evaluate the efficacy of adjunct TPE for septic shock with multiple organ failure compared to standard therapy alone.
Methods: A retrospective, observational chart review was performed, evaluating outcomes of patients with catecholamine resistant septic shock and multiple organ failure in Intensive Care Units at a tertiary care hospital in Winston Salem, North Carolina from August 2015- March 2019. Adult patients with catecholamine resistant septic shock (≥ 2 vasopressors) and evidence of multiple organ failure were included. Patients who received adjunct TPE were identified and compared to patients who received standard care alone. A propensity score using age, gender, chronic co-morbidities (HTN, DM, CKD, COPD), APACHE II score, SOFA score, lactate level, and number of vasopressors was used to match patients, resulting in 40 patients in each arm.
Results: Mean baseline APACHE II and SOFA scores were 32.5 and 14.3 in TPE patients versus 32.7 and 13.8 in control patients. The 28-day mortality rate was 40% in the TPE group versus 65% in the standard care group (p=0.043). Improvements in baseline SOFA scores at 48 hours were greater in the TPE group compared to standard care alone (p=0.001), and patients receiving adjunct TPE had a more favorable fluid balance at 48 hours (p=0.01). Patients receiving adjunct TPE had longer ICU and hospital lengths of stay (p=0.003 and p=0.006).
Conclusions: Our retrospective, observational study in adult patients with septic shock and multiple organ failure demonstrated improved 28-day survival with adjunct TPE compared to standard care alone. Hemodynamics, organ dysfunction, and fluid balance all improved with adjunct TPE, while lengths of stay were increased in survivors. The study design does not allow for a generalized statement of support for TPE in all cases of sepsis with multiple organ failure but offers valuable information for a prospective, randomized clinical trial.