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Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the body’s hyperactive response to an infection that can lead to inflammation, tissue damage, organ failure etc. It is a very dangerous state in which the immune system stops fighting with the invading agents and turns to itself. Around one-third of patients who are affected with sepsis die every year.
Diagnosing sepsis is not an easy task as there is no particular symptom or sign that are directly related to the disease. Doctors doubt sepsis when the patient exhibit more than two infections or related signs. Thus, the diagnosis of sepsis needs a high level of suspicion, through the study of history and physic of the person, appropriate laboratory checkups, and close follow-up of hemodynamic status of the patient.
Many diseases like pneumonia and diverticulosis that are caused by gram negative or positive bacteria, viruses or even fungi can be related to sepsis. If the patient shows a number of symptoms and infections, and do fall into a risk category, he/she can be doubted for sepsis.
In such cases, the doctor will look for all the signs exhibited and examine them thoroughly. It is advisable not to wait for the confirmation results for starting treatment for sepsis. If the treatment begins at the stage of suspicion itself, the patient gets a chance of better recovery.
Evaluation of patient history, in this case, is done to get information on three things.
Details of situation that can expose the patient to specific infectious agents are collected. For example fever, hypotension, exposure to animals, alcohol use, medications, loss of consciousness etc.
If the patient has neutropenic or other pelvic infections, physical examination that can reveal rectal, perirectal, or perineal abscesses, pelvic inflammatory disease or abscesses, or prostatitis should be done. It includes rectal, pelvic, and genital examinations.
For patients suspected with sepsis, a large number of tests are ordered so that the doctor gets details on the potentiality and severity of the patient's condition. It also helps to know the causes of sepsis-like microbial infections or processes.
The different tests done include urine test, blood test and tests related to other medical conditions.
For patients with possible signs of sepsis, there are a number of blood tests available. Even though those tests cannot diagnose sepsis, combining the results with other information can help.
Various blood tests available are:
There are three types of blood tests that can confirm sepsis. They are:
Two types of urine tests are ordered in cases of sepsis.
Apart from blood and urine tests, tests related to other diseases that can cause sepsis are also done.
Few examples are: