Background The role of fever in trauma patients remains unclear. Fever occurs as a response to release of cytokines and prostaglandins by white blood cells. Many factors, including trauma, can trigger release of these factors. Objectives To determine whether (1) fever in the first 48 hours is related to a favorable outcome in trauma patients and (2) fever is more common in patients with head trauma. Method Retrospective study of trauma patients admitted to the intensive care unit for at least 2 days. Data were analyzed by using multivariate analysis. Results Of 162 patients studied, 40% had fever during the first 48 hours. Febrile patients had higher mortality rates than did afebrile patients. When adjusted for severity of injuries, fever did not correlate with mortality. Neither the incidence of fever in the first 48 hours after admission to the intensive care unit nor the number of days febrile in the unit differed between patients with and patients without head trauma (traumatic brain injury). About 70% of febrile patients did not have a source found for their fever. Febrile patients without an identified source of infection had lower peak white blood cell counts, lower maximum body temperature, and higher minimum platelet counts than did febrile patients who had an infectious source identified. The most common infection was pneumonia. Conclusions No relationship was found between the presence of fever during the first 48 hours and mortality. Patients with traumatic brain injury did not have a higher incidence of fever than did patients without traumatic brain injury. About 30% of febrile patients had an identifiable source of infection. Further studies are needed to understand the origin and role of fever in trauma patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care