Which COPD patients should be admitted to the ICU?

A multicenter ICNARC-supported study of 832 COPD patients admitted to intensive care units showed a 180-day mortality of 37.9%.
A prognostic model was developed that was a better discriminator than the clinicians’ judgement. Factors associated with a poor prognosis included abnormal acute physiology, poor functional status (bed or chair bound, house bound or restricted), atrial fibrillation, male sex, number of days in hospital before intensive care admission, reduced midarm circumference as a measure of nutrition and muscle mass, years of age over 70 and reduced Glasgow Coma Score.
The COPD acute physiology score contains heart rate, mean arterial pressure, pH, sodium, urea, creatinine, albumin and white cell count.
According to a commentary in Thorax, “Results previously published from this study show that a large majority of patients with COPD achieve acceptable quality of life following their stay in the intensive care unit and would want to be readmitted under similar circumstances. This paper suggests that more should be done to help to get them this chance.
Hear, hear.
QJM. 2009 Jun;102(6):389-99

Etomidate versus ketamine for rapid sequence intubation

Finally a well designed blinded randomised controlled trial on this subject. 0.3 mg/kg etomidate was compared with 2mg/kg ketamine for RSI in 655 patients requiring emergency intubation in the pre-hospital, emergency department, or intensive care unit environments. No difference was observed in intubation conditions or the primary endpoint of maximum SOFA score in the first three days, although the etomidate group had a higher rate of adrenal insufficiency as defined by response to an ACTH test.
Etomidate versus ketamine for rapid sequence intubation in acutely ill patients: a multicentre randomised controlled trial.
Lancet. 2009 Jul 25;374(9686):293-300

Ketamine lowered ICP in brain-injured kids

Ketamine lowered ICP in brain-injured kids
Ventilated children between the ages of 1 and 16 with traumatic brain injury and elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) were given ketamine and effect on cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) and ICP was measured. Ketamine decreased ICP while maintaining blood pressure and CPP.
These results refute the notion that ketamine increases ICP. The authors conclude: “Ketamine is a safe and effective drug for patients with traumatic brain injury and intracranial hypertension, and it can possibly be used safely in trauma emergency situations”
Effectiveness of ketamine in decreasing intracranial pressure in children with intracranial hypertension
J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2009 Jul;4(1):40-6 (Full text)