What Is Sepsis?

  • Luuk Giesen
  • Mervyn Singer


Sepsis is a perplexing infection-related syndrome documented for thousands of years. It remains a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. The concepts and understanding of sepsis have evolved in recent decades from a systemic inflammatory response syndrome to infection to, more recently, a life-threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated host response. Clinical recognition of sepsis is often difficult, especially in the early stages of presentation. The disease course of sepsis is also highly variable. Heterogeneity related to age, comorbidity and iatrogenic intervention add further layers of complexity. Specific and sensitive diagnostics to aid identification and guide treatment are still lacking, though novel technologies hold considerable promise. It is now recognized that the biological phenotype of sepsis varies markedly, both between patients and over time. Thus, a one-size-fits-all therapeutic approach is increasingly viewed as over-simplistic, explaining the failure of various strategies in multiple randomized controlled trials.


Sepsis Septic shock Definition Sepsis-3 Clinical criteria 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bloomsbury Institute of Intensive Care MedicineUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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