High-volume hemofiltration in adult burn patients with septic shock and acute kidney injury: a multicenter randomized controlled trial
Chung et al. Critical Care
High-volume hemofiltration in adult burn patients with septic shock and acute kidney injury: a multicenter randomized controlled trial
0 United States Army Institute of Surgical Research , Fort Sam Houston, TX , USA
1 Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences , Bethesda, MD , USA
2 University of California Davis , Sacramento, CA , USA
3 Brooke Army Medical Center , Fort Sam Houston, TX , USA
4 Doctors Hospital Joseph M. Still Burn Center , Augusta, GA , USA
5 Loyola University Medical Center , Maywood, IL , USA
6 University of Tennessee Firefighters' Regional Burn Center , Memphis, TN , USA
7 University of South Florida Tampa General Hospital , Tampa, FL , USA
8 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center , Dallas, TX , USA
9 Arizona Burn Center Maricopa Integrated Health Systems , Phoenix, AZ , USA
Background: Sepsis and septic shock occur commonly in severe burns. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is also common and often results as a consequence of sepsis. Mortality is unacceptably high in burn patients who develop AKI requiring renal replacement therapy and is presumed to be even higher when combined with septic shock. We hypothesized that high-volume hemofiltration (HVHF) as a blood purification technique would be beneficial in this population. Methods: We conducted a multicenter, prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial to evaluate the impact of HVHF on the hemodynamic profile of burn patients with septic shock and AKI involving seven burn centers in the United States. Subjects randomized to the HVHF were prescribed a dose of 70 ml/kg/hour for 48 hours while control subjects were managed in standard fashion in accordance with local practices. Results: During a 4-year period, a total of nine subjects were enrolled for the intervention during the ramp-in phase and 28 subjects were randomized, 14 each into the control and HVHF arms respectively. The study was terminated due to slow enrollment. Ramp-in subjects were included along with those randomized in the final analysis. Our primary endpoint, the vasopressor dependency index, decreased significantly at 48 hours compared to baseline in the HVHF group (p = 0.007) while it remained no different in the control arm. At 14 days, the multiple organ dysfunction syndrome score decreased significantly in the HVHF group when compared to the day of treatment initiation (p = 0.02). No changes in inflammatory markers were detected during the 48-hour intervention period. No significant difference in survival was detected. No differences in adverse events were noted between the groups. Conclusions: HVHF was effective in reversing shock and improving organ function in burn patients with septic shock and AKI, and appears safe. Whether reversal of shock in these patients can improve survival is yet to be determined. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01213914. Registered 30 September 2010.
High-volume hemofiltration; Burns; Septic shock; Acute kidney injury; Randomized controlled trial; Multicenter
Presented as an oral presentation at the 49th American Burn Association
Annual Meeting in Boston MA, USA on 24 March 2017.
1Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX, USA
2Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
Severe infections resulting in septic shock occur
frequently in burn patients and are associated with high
]. AKI is also a common complication in this
population, with an associated mortality as high as 80%
among those who need renal replacement therapy (RRT)
]. Like other intensive care unit (ICU) populations, the
cause of AKI in burns is often multifactorial. However, a
major cause of AKI is the combined effect of
inflammation and microcirculatory dysregulation secondary to
]. Despite advances in burn care over the past
few decades, the mortality rate in burns with AKI has
remained unacceptably high, especially when compared
to other ICU populations [
Recently, aggressive application of continuous
venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH) was found to decrease
mortality in adult patients with severe burns and AKI
when compared to historical controls [
]. The greatest
benefit appeared to be realized in those patients in shock
at the time therapy was initiated [
]. Early data suggest
that HVHF could be utilized to treat both the renal and
extra-renal manifestations of AKI in the setting of septic
]. HVHF has evolved from standard renal
replacement therapies to primarily manage the
metabolic consequences of AKI into one of many blood
purification techniques designed to target the dysregulated
immune response associated with septic shock [
Authors of a recent Cochrane meta-analysis evaluating
HVHF in sepsis concluded that the data were
insufficient to comment on outcomes . They did, however,
note no adverse effects of HVHF. The largest study
included found that HVHF (70 ml/kg/hour) did not lead
to a decrease in 28-day mortality or contribute to
improvements in hemodynamics when compared to
controls (CVVH at 35 ml/kg/hour) in a mixed ICU
]. No studies have included burns.
Severe burns are characterized by an augmented host
response that is more pronounced than in other populations
]. This is followed by significant catabolism with periods
of major metabolic and inflammatory derangements during
active infection [
]. Application of blood purification
techniques in this setting may improve outcomes. We
hypothesized that HVHF would improve hemodynamics in
the setting of septic shock and AKI in critically ill burn
patients when compared to standard care.
After obtaining multilevel institutional review board
approval, we conducted a multicenter randomized
controlled trial to compare the impact of HVHF compared to
controls in burn patients with septic shock and AKI. The
trial was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01213914)
and was monitored by a Data Safety Monitoring Board
(DSMB). Ten burn centers were selected based on the
presence of an established continuous RRT capability and
prior experience conducting clinical trials. The enrollment
period was from February 2012 to February 2016. Centers
were excluded if they were not able to enroll any study
subjects within a 12-month ramp-in period.
We included all adults with burns who subsequently
developed septic shock with AKI at least 2 days post burn.
Patients with end-stage renal disease were excluded.
Septic shock was defined by the American Burn Association
(ABA) definition that has previously been described [
AKI was defined by oliguria (< 20 ml/hour) for > 24 hours
or an increase in serum creatinine of > 2 mg/dl in males
or > 1.5 mg/dl in females over a period of < 4 days, the
same criteria utilized in a prior multicenter study [
Once subjects were identified as meeting the inclusion
and exclusion criteria, their legally authorized
representative was contacted for informed consent and enrollment
within 24 hours. Once enrolled, subjects were randomized
into paired groupings by age and burn size in coordination
via telephone through Perry Point Cooperative Studies
Center (Baltimore Research and Education Foundation,
Baltimore, MD, USA).
Subjects randomized to the HVHF arm were initiated on
CVVH at a prescribed dose of 70 ml/kg/hour for 48 hours
using either the NxStage System One™ (NxStage Medical
Inc., Lawrence, MA, USA) or the PRISMAFLEX System™
(Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Deerfield, IL, USA). The
study dose was discontinued at 48 hours. Patients
requiring RRT beyond the intervention period were prescribed
the mode, dose, anticoagulation, and duration of therapy
determined by the treatment team.
Subjects randomized to the control arm underwent
treatment based on local standards to include any mode of
RRT, delivered at standard doses (20–35 ml/kg/hour),
with the timing of treatment initiation left to be decided
by the treatment team. Anticoagulation strategy was
determined by the treatment team.
The primary outcome measure was identified as the
hemodynamics profile at 48 hours objectively measured
by the vasopressor dependency index (VDI) as described
] (see Additional file 1). Secondary
measures included vasopressor-free days in the first 14 days,
MODS score in the first 14 days [
], ICU days, and
mortality. Adverse events were reported to the DSMB
Plasma cytokine concentrations
All six cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-γ, and
TNF-α) were measured by a sandwich ELISA method on
the Theranos 3.0 device (Theranos Inc., Palo Alto, CA,
USA) (see Additional file 1).
The study was powered to detect a 4.8-unit difference in
the drop of the primary endpoint from baseline at 90%
power, with a type I error rate of 5% resulting in a
required sample size of 120 subjects.
Continuous data are summarized as the median (25th,
75th quantile) while categorical data are summarized as
proportions. Fisher’s exact test, McNemar’s test, and the
Wilcoxon rank-sum test were used as appropriate.
Hemodynamic parameters were compared between
controls and HVHF at both hour 0 and hour 48. Median
values within each group were then compared between
hour 0 and hour 48 to assess the difference in the drop of
the VDI from baseline. To control the type I error rate for
each variable at 0.05 given four statistical tests, an alpha
level of 0.0125 was used to determine significance.
Linear mixed-effect models were used to compare
trends in cytokine values over the first 48 hours between
the control and HVHF groups. A random intercept and
slope term was included for each subject.
Data were analyzed following the intention-to-treat
principle where appropriate. All tests were two-sided at
a significance level of 0.05. Analyses were conducted
using R Version 3.3.1 (R Core Team) or SAS/STAT
software version 9.4 (SAS Institute, Inc.).
Across seven participating burn centers, 4086 subjects
were screened for enrollment during a 4-year enrollment
period. Of those who met the inclusion criteria, a total of
nine subjects were enrolled during the ramp-in phase and
28 subjects were randomized, 14 each into the control and
HVHF arms. The study was terminated due to slow
enrollment. Ramp-in subjects were included along with those
randomized in the final analysis. Four subjects withdrew
from the study. The primary endpoint was analyzed only
for the subjects who remained in the study and had
complete data. We applied the intent-to-treat principle for
all other analyses. Figure 1 depicts the flow diagram for the
trial. Baseline demographic and physiologic characteristics
are presented in Table 1. Among those in the control
group, all of whom were initiated on RRT upon
randomization, seven and three subjects were initiated on
CVVH and continuous venovenous hemodiafiltration
(CVVHDF) respectively at an average delivered dose of 33
± 3 ml/kg/hour. Two patients in the control group received
intermittent hemodialysis (IHD) with a delivered clearance
of 1.2 (Kt/V). All subjects in the HVHF group received
CVVH at an average prescribed dose of 70 ± 1 ml/kg/hour
and a delivered dose of 66 ± ml/kg/hour. In the HVHF
group, 11 patients received trisodium citrate and seven
patients received heparin for regional anticoagulation, while
five patients received no anticoagulation. In the control
group, two subjects received trisodium citrate and eight
subjects received heparin for regional anticoagulation,
while four subjects received no anticoagulation.
Anticoagulation strategy was not found to be significantly different
between the two groups (p = 0.11).
At the time of treatment initiation, which was a median
of 2 (1, 3) hours from the time of randomization and up
to 24 hours from meeting the inclusion criteria, 69% of
control subjects and 50% of HVHF subjects remained on
vasopressors. Our primary endpoint results (VDI)
expressed as medians and quartiles are presented in Table 2
along with other hemodynamic parameters (see Additional
file 1: Table S1 for all comparisons). In the HVHF group,
the VDI decreased significantly at 48 hours compared to
baseline (p = 0.007) while it remained no different in the
control arm (p = 0.24). We also evaluated the change in the
proportion of patients on vasopressors at 48 hours
compared to baseline. For the control group, the percentage of
patients on vasopressors did not change significantly
between hour 0 and hour 48 (69% vs 50%, p = 0.617); while
for the HVHF group, the percentage decreased
significantly at hour 48 (50% vs 15%, p = 0.013).
Vasopressor-free days in the first 14 days were also no
different between the control and HVHF groups (3.0
(0.0, 10.3) vs 7.0 (1.0, 10.0), p = 0.39). At 14 days, the
MODS score was no different in the control group when
compared to the day of treatment initiation (10.0 (9.2,
10.5) vs 8.0 (7.0, 12.0), p = 0.34) while it decreased
significantly in the HVHF group (10.0 (7.0, 13.5) vs 7.0 (5.0,
10.0), p = 0.02). Relevant end-of-study outcome measures
are compared in Table 3. We did not detect any difference
in ICU days or need for RRT upon hospital discharge
among survivors. We also did not detect a difference in
mortality at various time points.
Of the six cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-γ, and
TNF-α) measured over the 48-hour intervention period,
none significantly decreased over time (see Fig. 2).
Additionally, no cytokines were different at each time point
between the two groups.
No differences in adverse events were noted between the
groups (see Additional file 1).
To date, this is the first and only controlled trial
evaluating HVHF in the burn population. Despite having to
stop our study early due to slow enrollment with a
resultant small sample size, we detected a significant
Data presented as median (25th, 75th quantile) or percentage
p values from Wilcoxon two-sample tests for continuous variables and Fisher’s
exact test for binary variables. All subjects included in summary tables via the
HVHF high-volume hemofiltration, TBSA total body surface area, ISS Injury
Severity Score, ARDS acute respiratory distress syndrome, MODS multiple
organ dysfunction syndrome, APACHE Acute Physiology and Chronic Health
Evaluation, MAP mean arterial pressure, HR heart rate, BUN blood urea nitrogen,
PFR partial pressure of oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio, BD base deficit
decrease in the primary endpoint over 48 hours. Thus,
our data suggest that intervention with HVHF in burn
patients with septic shock and concomitant AKI results in
significant clinical improvement when compared to
standard care. This finding was a bit unexpected and suggests
that the actual effect size was greater than that assumed
for our power calculation. Additionally, HVHF improved
overall organ function over a 2-week period as reflected
by a significant improvement of the MODS score.
While the small sample size may be a reason for
restrained enthusiasm, these findings add valuable
information to the limited body of literature that exists in the
field of blood purification. Our detection of improved
hemodynamics with HVHF in our study corroborates
similar findings from previous studies. In one
singlecenter pilot study, HVHF at 65 ml/kg/hour significantly
decreased vasopressor requirements in septic shock
patients with AKI [
]. In a nested cohort of 115 patients
from the RENAL study, high-intensity CVVHDF, at a
dose of 40 ml/kg/hour, was associated with greater
improvements in MAP and vasopressor requirements when
compared to controls [
]. Interestingly, the IVOIRE
study, the largest trial to date to evaluate HVHF in a
mixed ICU population, failed to show a benefit in
]. Perhaps the difference in patient
population could explain this discrepancy in our findings
compared to the IVOIRE study. Burn injury is widely
known to be associated with a dysregulated host
response that is significant greater in magnitude and
duration than any other population [
]. Regardless, it is
difficult to dismiss our primary findings as being due to
chance alone given the multicenter, RCT design.
The benefit of accelerating the reversal of shock is not
difficult to deduce in the burn population. Among the
principles of burn care is the concept of optimizing the
Data presented as median (25th, 75th quantile)
HVHF high-volume hemofiltration, MAP mean arterial pressure, VDI vasopressor dependency index
*p < 0.0125 when comparing hour 48 to baseline (hour 0)
conditions of wound healing throughout the hospitalization.
The notion that shock states which impair microcirculation
at the level of the wound bed will significantly impact
wound healing is well accepted [
]. The extent of injured
and unhealed wound burden is the greatest contributor to
mortality in burns [
]. Hence, any process that inhibits
wound healing or results in less than optimal graft take after
definitive surgery can theoretically impact overall outcomes.
The study was not powered or designed to detect a
difference in mortality. Given the longitudinal nature of burn
care and the multiple episodes of sepsis that can occur
while awaiting definitive wound coverage, it is unrealistic to
expect that reversal of shock during one episode of sepsis
could have an impact on inhospital mortality. Repeat
treatments to reverse each episode of shock during the course
of a hospitalization are likely to impact outcomes. This is
particularly true if the intervention is able to preserve organ
function much like HVHF did during this study.
The mechanism by which HVHF may have resulted in
hemodynamic improvement in our study is somewhat
unclear. Nonspecific cytokine removal in the setting of a
dysregulated immune-inflammatory state is the main
mechanism postulated for the improvements observed
for a variety of blood purification strategies [
]. In our
study, cytokine levels measured at discreet intervals for
the duration of the 48-hour intervention period did not
Data presented as median (25th, 75th quantile) or percentage
All subjects included in the mortality comparison via the
HVHF high-volume hemofiltration, ICU intensive care unit, RRT renal
change (see Fig. 2). A recent study reported similar
findings. Hemodynamic improvement with HVHF was not
associated with a decrease in cytokine levels [
Additionally, the acid–base status was not different between
the two groups (Additional file 1: Table S2). Higher
intensity CRRT has been shown to improve blood pressure
without any difference in acid–base status [
]. Of the
many variables assessed, only BUN was different
between the two groups. This suggests the possibility of
better metabolic control as a reason for improvement in
hemodynamics. Alternatively, a mechanism not
evaluated during the course of the study, such as alteration of
the neurohormonal axis or improvement of the
microcirculation, may explain our findings [
In their review, Clark et al. cautioned against the
routine use of HVHF for septic AKI [
]. In addition to
concluding that the evidence of benefit was weak, they
pointed to several concerns such as the possibility of
under-dosing antibiotics and electrolyte abnormalities. It
is clear that drug clearance is augmented with HVHF.
However, drug pharmacokinetics is very complex and
involves the consideration of multiple variables to include
protein binding, the volume of distribution, and the
sieving coefficient [
]. Hence, dosing should be
individualized and guided by drug levels when available. Recent
investigations suggest sufficient levels can be achieved
by dosing to normal renal function [
]. Concern for
therapy-related electrolyte abnormalities can easily be
overcome by a standardized replacement protocol. All
study sites for our trial had such protocols in place with
routine monitoring and aggressive replacement. As such,
no significant electrolyte abnormalities were
encountered in our study, a distinct departure from what has
been reported previously [
A variety of blood purification strategies currently exist
for the treatment of septic shock and can be applied in
]. These include Polymyxin B-immobilized fiber
therapy, plasma exchange, and hemoadsorptive columns
]. Clark et al. suggest that further trials should
focus on these methods in lieu of HVHF due to the
resource intensiveness of the therapy [
]. However, all of
these therapies harbor the same issues of insufficient
clinical evidence. The most promising of these in terms of
efficacy and safety, Polymyxin B hemoperfusion, is not
widely available. On the other hand, HVHF is immediately
available in centers that have an established continuous
RRT program and does not pose nearly the same
theoretical concerns that repeat treatments with plasma exchange
may bring [
A number of limitations exist with this study. First,
the study was mired by slow enrollment which resulted
in a small sample size. This is despite sufficient funding
and much enthusiasm within the burn community.
Despite our best efforts, we fell short of our enrollment goal.
Still, our findings were significant for the primary
outcome and these data contribute to the body of literature
that is starved of clinical data. Second, the informed
consent process allowed for up to 24 hours prior to
study initiation, which allowed enough time for patients
to improve clinically while awaiting randomization. All
of these patients received standard care which included
early initiation of antibiotics and source control during
the screening process. This resulted in a number of
patients coming off vasopressor and correcting their
laboratory abnormalities. An optimal design for this type
of study would have been to alter the consent process
such that subjects could be randomized as soon as they
met the criteria. Our current clinical research regulatory
landscape makes such study designs exceedingly difficult.
This is among many key reasons why some have called
for the abandonment of randomized controlled trials in
the ICU [
]. Another limitation is the fact that the
definition of AKI utilized for our entry criteria is now
outdated. When this study design was conceived in
2009, current standardized criteria for AKI such as
RIFLE (Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End stage), AKIN
(Acute Kidney Injury Network), or KDIGO (Kidney
Disease: Improving Global Outcomes) had yet to be
widely adopted or their use published for burns [
Hence, we chose to use the AKI entry criteria utilized in
the Veterans Affairs/National Institutes of Health (VA/NIH)
Acute Renal Failure Trial Network paper [
should consider this limitation when attempting to
translate our findings. Finally, even within a homogeneous
population such as burn patients, the phenotypic
presentation of sepsis varies widely. Some patients were in
profound circulatory shock with evidence of severe
inflammatory dysregulation, while others had an indolent
course with a low-grade level of shock. This variability
makes it difficult to gauge the true impact of this therapy
and may explain the lack of benefit detected in prior
studies such as the IVOIRE study. Individualizing
extracorporeal therapies based on the exact phenotypic
presentation is the most rational approach to clinical care but is
very difficult to study in large numbers. This design
challenge of matching the right treatment strategy to the right
patient is ongoing [
HVHF was effective in reversing shock and improving
organ function in critically ill burn patients with septic
shock and AKI, and appears safe. This therapy can be
considered in select patients when the right resources
are available. Whether reversal of shock in these patients
can improve survival is yet to be determined.
Additional file 1: Contains supplementary methods, Table S1
presenting comparison of hemodynamic parameters between control
and HVHF groups at baseline (hour 0) and hour 48 and comparison of
change in hemodynamic parameters between baseline and hour 48 for
each group, Table S2 presenting physiologic and laboratory
characteristics (mean ± SD) at hours 0, 24, and 48, Table S3 presenting p
values for comparisons of physiologic and laboratory characteristics of
controls to HVHF subjects at 0, 24, and 48 hours, and lists IRBs. (DOCX 27
ABA: American Burn Association; AKI: Acute kidney injury; AKIN: Acute
Kidney Injury Network; CVVH: Continuous venovenous hemofiltration;
CVVHDF: Continuous venovenous hemodiafiltration; DSMB: Data Safety
Monitoring Board; HVHF: High-volume hemofiltration; ICU: Intensive care
unit; IHD: Intermittent hemodialysis; IVOIRE: hIgh VOlume in Intensive care;
KDIGO: Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes; MODS: Multiple organ
dysfunction syndrome; RESCUE: Randomized controlled Evaluation of
high-volume hemofiltration in adult burn patients with Septic shoCk and
acUte kidnEy injury; RIFLE: Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End stage; RRT: Renal
replacement therapy; VA/NIH: Veterans Affairs/National Institutes of Health;
VDI: Vasopressor dependency index
Herb A. Phelan, MD and Ramesh Saxena, MD, University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center; James Howard, MD, Dhaval Bhavsar, MD, Satish Ponnuru,
MD, Michelle DeSouza, MD, Sri G. Yarlagadda, MD, University of Kansas Medical
Center. The authors acknowledge the extensive contributions from the DSMB:
Steven A. Conrad, MD, PhD (chair), Professor of Medicine, Emergency Medicine,
Pediatrics, Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology, Louisiana State University Health
Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA; Sharmila Dissanaike, MD, Assistant Professor,
Department of Surgery, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock,
TX; and Richard Holubkov, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics,
Division of Critical Care, School of Medicine, University of Utah, UT. Additionally,
the authors are appreciative of the continuous support from the ABA central
office: Kimberly A. Hoarle, Janet Turner, Kitty Vineyard, and Susan Browning;
ABA Multi-Center Trials Group: Jeffrey Saffle, MD, Salt Lake, UT and James H.
Holmes, MD, Winston-Salem, NC: Data Coordinating Center University of
California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA: MaryBeth Lawless (Director),
Silvia Hughes, Katrina Falwell, and Terese Curri; and Theranos® Incorporation:
Elizabeth Holmes (Chief Executive Officer), Daniel Young, PhD, and Daniel Edlin.
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the
authors and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of
the Department of the Army, Air Force or the Department of Defense.
This work was funded by the United States Army Medical Research and
Materiel Command (Grant number: W81XWH-09-2-0194).
All authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, and
acquisition of data. KKC, DJS, WLH, MJM, AMS, RFM, DMC, BDA, and SEW made
substantial contributions to analysis and interpretation of data. KKC, DJS, WLH,
MJM, DMC, BDA, SLT, and SEW were involved in drafting the manuscript. KKC,
ECC, DJS, WLH, MJM, AMS, RFM, DMC, BDA, SLT, and SEW were involved in
revising the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. All authors
gave final approval of the final manuscript to be published.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
The study was approved in a multilevel institutional review process. The core
protocol was initially reviewed by the United States Army Medical Research and
Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Institutional Review Board (IRB) and reviewed
again for final approval by the Army Human Research Protection Office (AHRPO).
The core protocol was then submitted to each participating site’s local IRB with
site-specific addendums and approved again by AHRPO. All amendments to the
core protocol required multilevel review with final approval by the AHRPO. A list
of IRBs for each specific site is listed in Additional file 1. Informed consent was
obtained from all participating subjects through their surrogates.
Consent for publication
All authors gave final approval of the final manuscript to be published.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
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