PURPOSE: Data on purpura fulminans (PF) in adult patients are scarce and mainly limited to meningococcal infections. Our aim has been to report the clinical features and outcomes of adult patients admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) for an infectious PF, as well as the predictive factors for limb amputation and mortality.
METHODS: A 17-year national multicenter retrospective cohort study in 55 ICUs in France from 2000 to 2016, including adult patients admitted for an infectious PF defined by a sudden and extensive purpura, together with the need for vasopressor support. Primary outcome variables included hospital mortality and amputation during the follow-up period (time between ICU admission and amputation, death or end of follow-up).
RESULTS: Among the 306 included patients, 126 (41.2%; 95% CI 35.6-46.9) died and 180 (58.8%; 95% CI 53.3-64.3) survived during the follow-up period [13 (3-24) days], including 51/180 patients (28.3%, 95% CI 21.9-35.5) who eventually required limb amputations, with a median number of 3 (1-4) limbs amputated. The two predominantly identified microorganisms were Neisseria meningitidis (63.7%) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (21.9%). By multivariable Cox model, SAPS II [hazard-ratio (HR) = 1.03 (1.02-1.04); p < 0.001], lower leucocytes [HR 0.83 (0.69-0.99); p = 0.034] and platelet counts [HR 0.77 (0.60-0.91); p = 0.007], and arterial blood lactate levels [HR 2.71 (1.68-4.38); p < 0.001] were independently associated with hospital death, while a neck stiffness [HR 0.51 (0.28-0.92); p = 0.026] was a protective factor. Infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae [sub-hazard ratio 1.89 (1.06-3.38); p = 0.032], together with arterial lactate levels and ICU admission temperature, was independently associated with amputation by a competing risks analysis.
CONCLUSION: Purpura fulminans carries a high mortality and morbidity. Pneumococcal PF leads to a higher risk of amputation.
TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT03216577.