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The prognosis of oncologic patients in the pediatric intensive care unit

A. van Veen| A. Karstens| A. C. J. van der Hoek| D. Tibboel| K. Hählen| E. van der Voort
Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care
Volume 22, Issue 3 / March , 1996

Pages 237 - 241



To evaluate the predicted mortality rate of oncologic patients in the PICU using the PRISM score and factors that might influence short-term outcomes.


Retrospective study.Setting: Pedriatic ICU in a university hospital

Patients and Methods

The medical charts of all oncologic patients admitted to the PICU during the period from January 1983 to December 1992 were reviewed.

Main Results

Over a period of 10 years, 51 oncologic patients were admitted on 57 occasions to the PICU. The mortality was 32%. This is significantly higher than the overall mortality in the PICU (8%). Comparison of observed and predicted mortality, derived from the PRISM score, using chi square goodness-of-fit tests showed a significantly higher observed mortality (x2(5)=20.1,P<0.01). Patients admitted for circulatory failure and the highest mortality (47%), followed by those with respiratory failure due to tachypnea/cyanosis (36%), central nervous system deterioration (27%), respiratory failure due to ariway obstruction (25%), and metabolic disorders (20%). Of the 31 patients who needed mechanical ventilation, 17 died (55%), and when they needed inotropic support as well, the mortality increased to 69%. The mortality rose to 100% when the patient was admitted with a septic shock, necessitating mechanical ventilation and inotropic support. The median PRISM score was 5 in the survivor group and 18.5 in the non-survivor group; this difference was found to be significant using the Wilcoxon test (P=0.01). However, some patients with high scores were found in the survivor group, as well as some with low scores in the non-survivor group.


The decision to treat opcologic patients in a PICU remains difficult and has to be considered on an individual basis. However, oncologic patients do benefit from admission to the PICU. The PRISM score is not suitable for oncologic patients in the PICU, because it underestimates the observed mortality. Other factors like neutropenia, septic shock, the need for mechanical ventilation, and inotropic support should be taken into consideration.



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