Systemic inflammatory response syndrome

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 03 Jul 2021

The systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) refers to a pathophysiological state in patients with a critical non-infectious or infectious illness. It is non-specific and although commonly associated with sepsis can be seen in many life-threatening illnesses.

Two or more of the features below are by definition present 1:

  • fever (>38°C) or hypothermia (<36°C)
  • heart rate of over 90 beats per minute
  • respiratory rate over 20 breaths per minute or an arterial CO2 less than 32 mmHg
  • white cell count: >12⨉109 cells/L, <4⨉109 cells/L, or containing >10% band forms

Conditions capable of producing the systemic inflammatory response syndrome include 2:

The definition of systemic inflammatory response syndrome was agreed during an August 1991 consensus meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), convened at Northbrook, Illinois, the headquarters of the ACCP 1.

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