The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/cc9240) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Two recent systematic reviews evaluating intensive insulin therapy (IIT) in critically ill patients grouped randomized controlled trials (RCTs) by type of intensive care unit (ICU). The more recent review found that IIT reduced mortality in patients admitted to a surgical ICU, but not in those admitted to medical ICUs or mixed medical-surgical ICUs, or in all patients combined. Our objective was to determine whether IIT saves lives in critically ill surgical patients regardless of the type of ICU. Pooling mortality data from surgical and medical subgroups in mixed-ICU RCTs (16 trials) with RCTs conducted exclusively in surgical ICUs (five trials) and in medical ICUs (five trials), respectively, showed no effect of IIT in the subgroups of surgical patients (risk ratio = 0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.69 to 1.04, P = 0.11; I2 = 51%, 95% CI = 1 to 75%) or of medical patients (risk ratio = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.95 to 1.09, P = 0.61; I2 = 0%, 95% CI = 0 to 41%). There was no differential effect between subgroups (interaction P = 0.10). There was statistical heterogeneity in the surgical subgroup, with some trials demonstrating significant benefit and others demonstrating significant harm, but no surgical subgroup consistently benefited from IIT. Such a reanalysis suggests that IIT does not reduce mortality in critically ill surgical patients or medical patients. Further insights may come from individual patient data meta-analyses or from future large multicenter RCTs in more narrowly defined subgroups of surgical patients.
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- Does intensive insulin therapy really reduce mortality in critically ill surgical patients? A reanalysis of meta-analytic data
Jan O Friedrich
Neill KJ Adhikari
- BioMed Central
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