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Pharmaco-nutrients have beneficial effects on protective and immunological mechanisms in patients undergoing surgery, which are important for recovery after injury and in combating infectious agents. The aim of this review article was to outline the potential of the administration of nutritional substrates to surgical patients and the underlying mechanisms that make them particularly important in peri-operative care. Surgery causes a stress response, which has catabolic effects on the body's substrate stores. The amino acid glutamine is a stimulating agent for immune cells. It activates protective mechanisms through its role as a precursor for antioxidants and it improves the barrier function of the gut. Arginine also enhances the function of the immune system, since it is the substrate for T-lymphocytes. Furthermore, n-3 PUFA stabilise surgery-induced hyper-inflammation. Taurine is another substrate that may counteract the negative effects of surgical injury on acid–base balance and osmotic balance. These pharmaco-nutrients rapidly become deficient under the influence of surgical stress. Supplementation of these nutrients in surgical patients may restore their protective and immune-enhancing actions and improve clinical outcome. Moreover, pre-operative fasting is still common practice in the Western world, although fasting has a negative effect on the patient's condition and the recovery after surgery. This may be counteracted by a simple intervention such as administering a carbohydrate-rich supplement just before surgery. In conclusion, there are various nutritional substrates that may be of great value in improving the condition of the surgical patient, which may be beneficial for post-operative recovery.
Background: Delirium in elderly patients is associated with various long-term sequelae that include cognitive impairment and affective disturbances, although the latter is understudied.
Methods: For a prospective cohort study of elderly patients undergoing hip fracture surgery, baseline characteristics and affective and cognitive functioning were assessed preoperatively. During hospital admission, presence of delirium was assessed daily. Three months after hospital discharge, affective and global cognitive functioning was evaluated again in patients free from delirium at the time of this follow-up. This study compared baseline characteristics and affective functioning between patients with and without in-hospital delirium. We investigated whether in-hospital delirium is associated with increased anxiety and depressive levels, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms three months after discharge.
Results: Among 53 eligible patients, 23 (43.4%) patients experienced in-hospital delirium after hip fracture repair. Patients who had experienced in-hospital delirium showed more depressive symptoms at follow-up after three months compared to the 30 patients without in-hospital delirium. This association persisted in a multivariate model controlling for age, baseline cognition, baseline depressive symptoms, and living situation. The level of anxiety and symptoms of PTSD at follow-up did not differ between both groups.
Conclusion: This study suggests that in-hospital delirium is associated with an increased burden of depressive symptoms three months after discharge in elderly patients who were admitted to the hospital for surgical repair of hip fracture. Symptoms of depression in patients with previous in-hospital delirium cannot be fully explained by persistent (sub)syndromal delirium or baseline cognitive impairment.
In shock, organ perfusion is of vital importance because organ oxygenation is at risk. NO, the main endothelial-derived vasodilator, is crucial for organ perfusion and coronary patency. The availability of NO might depend on the balance between a substrate (arginine) and an inhibitor (asymmetric dimethylarginine; ADMA) of NO synthase. Therefore, we investigated the relationship of arginine, ADMA and their ratio with circulatory markers, disease severity, organ failure and mortality in shock patients. In forty-four patients with shock (cardiogenic n 17, septic n 27), we prospectively measured plasma arginine and ADMA at intensive care unit admission, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II-(predicted mortality) and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, and circulatory markers to investigate their relationship. Arginine concentration was decreased (34·6 (sd 17·9) μmol/l) while ADMA concentration was within the normal range (0·46 (sd 0·18) μmol/l), resulting in a decrease in the arginine:ADMA ratio. The ratio correlated with several circulatory markers (cardiac index, disseminated intravascular coagulation, bicarbonate, lactate and pH), APACHE II and SOFA score, creatine kinase and glucose. The arginine:ADMA ratio showed an association (OR 0·976, 95 % CI 0·963, 0·997, P = 0·025) and a diagnostic accuracy (area under the curve 0·721, 95 % CI 0·560, 0·882, P = 0·016) for hospital mortality, whereas the arginine or ADMA concentration alone or APACHE II-predicted mortality failed to do so. In conclusion, in shock patients, the imbalance of arginine and ADMA is related to circulatory failure, organ failure and disease severity, and predicts mortality. We propose a pathophysiological mechanism in shock: the imbalance of arginine and ADMA contributes to endothelial and cardiac dysfunction resulting in poor organ perfusion and organ failure, thereby increasing the risk of death.
Major surgery induces an immuno-inflammatory response accompanied by oxidative stress that may impair cellular function and delay recovery. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of an enteral supplement, containing glutamine and antioxidants, on circulating levels of immuno-inflammatory markers after major gastrointestinal tract surgery. Patients (n 21) undergoing major gastrointestinal tract surgery were randomised in a single-centre, open-label study. The effects on circulating levels of immuno-inflammatory markers were determined on the day before surgery and on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 after surgery. Major gastrointestinal surgery increased IL-6, TNF receptor 55/60 (TNF-R55) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Surgery reduced human leucocyte antigen-DR (HLA-DR) expression on monocytes. CRP decrease was more pronounced in the first 7 d in the treatment group compared with the control group. In the treatment group, from the moment Module AOX was administered on day 1 after surgery, TNF receptor 75/80 (TNF-R75) level decreased until the third post-operative day and then stabilised, whereas in the control group the TNF-R75 level continued to increase. The results of the present pilot study suggest that enteral nutrition enriched with glutamine and antioxidants possibly moderates the immuno-inflammatory response (CRP, TNF-R75) after surgery.
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