Multiple Organ Dysfunction Interactions in Critically Ill Children

Colleen M. Badke*, Anoop Mayampurath, L. Nelson Sanchez-Pinto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Multiple organ dysfunction (MOD) is a common pathway to morbidity and death in critically ill children. Defining organ dysfunction is challenging, as we lack a complete understanding of the complex pathobiology. Current pediatric organ dysfunction criteria assign the same diagnostic value—the same “weight”— to each organ system. While each organ dysfunction in isolation contributes to the outcome, there are likely complex interactions between multiple failing organs that are not simply additive. Objective: Determine whether certain combinations of organ system dysfunctions have a significant interaction associated with higher risk of morbidity or mortality in critically ill children. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational cohort study of critically ill children at two large academic medical centers from 2010 and 2018. Patients were included in the study if they had at least two organ dysfunctions by day 3 of PICU admission based on the Pediatric Organ Dysfunction Information Update Mandate (PODIUM) criteria. Mortality was described as absolute number of deaths and mortality rate. Combinations of two pediatric organ dysfunctions were analyzed with interaction terms as independent variables and mortality or persistent MOD as the dependent variable in logistic regression models. Results: Overall, 7,897 patients met inclusion criteria and 446 patients (5.6%) died. The organ dysfunction interactions that were significantly associated with the highest absolute number of deaths were cardiovascular + endocrinologic, cardiovascular + neurologic, and cardiovascular + respiratory. Additionally, the interactions associated with the highest mortality rates were liver + cardiovascular, respiratory + hematologic, and respiratory + renal. Among patients with persistent MOD, the most common organ dysfunctions with significant interaction terms were neurologic + respiratory, hematologic + immunologic, and endocrinologic + respiratory. Further analysis using classification and regression trees (CART) demonstrated that the absence of respiratory and liver dysfunction was associated with the lowest likelihood of mortality. Implications and Future Directions: Certain combinations of organ dysfunctions are associated with a higher risk of persistent MOD or death. Notably, the three most common organ dysfunction interactions were associated with 75% of the mortality in our cohort. Critically ill children with MOD presenting with these combinations of organ dysfunctions warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number874282
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
StatePublished - Apr 25 2022


  • critical care
  • data science
  • mortality
  • multiple organ dysfunction
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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