Lactate clearance goal in sepsis

Previous work in severe sepsis/septic shock patients has shown that a decrease in lactate concentration by at least 10% during emergency department resuscitation predicts survival. Since this is a potential alternative resuscitation goal to a central venous oxygen saturation (ScvO2) of 70% (as per surviving sepsis campaign guidelines), lactate clearance was compared with ScvO2 in a randomised non-inferiority trial of 300 patients.

All patients were managed in the ED and received fluids, antibiotics, and vasopressors as needed. Then lactate clearance or ScvO2 were measured, and if the respective goals of 10% or 70% were not met, packed cells or dobutamine were given depending on haematocrit. Lactate clearance was the percentage decrease in lactate between two venous specimens taken two hours apart.

Interestingly only 29 patients received either packed cells or dobutamine. Each group was similar in terms of time to antibiotic therapy and amount of fluid given. Patients in the group resuscitated to a lactate clearance of 10% or higher had 6% lower in-hospital mortality than those resuscitated to an ScvO2 of at least 70% (95% CI for this difference, –3% to 15%) exceeding the –10% predefined noninferiority threshold.

The authors conclude ‘these data support the substitution of lactate measurements in peripheral venous blood as a safe and efficacious alternative to a computerized spectrophotometric catheter in the resuscitation of sepsis.’

Lactate clearance vs central venous oxygen saturation as goals of early sepsis therapy: a randomized clinical trial
JAMA. 2010 Feb 24;303(8):739-46