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Capillary refill time for the management of acute circulatory failure: a survey among pediatric and adult intensivists.



Recent studies have shown the prognostic value of capillary refill time (CRT) and suggested that resuscitation management guided by CRT may reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with septic shock. However, little is known about the current use of CRT in routine clinical practice. This study aimed to assess the modalities of CRT use among French adult and pediatric intensivists.


A cross-sectional survey exploring CRT practices in acute circulatory failure was performed. The targeted population was French adult and pediatric intensivists (SFAR and GFRUP networks). An individual invitation letter including a survey of 32 questions was emailed twice. Descriptive and analytical statistics were performed.


Among the 6071 physicians who received the letter, 418 (7%) completed the survey. Among all respondents, 82% reported using CRT in routine clinical practice, mainly to diagnose acute circulatory failure, but 45% did not think CRT had any prognostic value. Perfusion goal-directed therapy based on CRT was viewed as likely to improve patient outcome by 37% of respondents. The measurement of CRT was not standardized as the use of a chronometer was rare (3%) and the average of multiple measurements rarely performed (46%). Compared to adult intensivists, pediatric intensivists used CRT more frequently (99% versus 76%) and were more confident in its diagnostic value and its ability to guide treatment.


CRT measurement is widely used by intensivists in patients with acute circulatory failure but most often in a non-standardized way. This may lead to a misunderstanding of CRT reliability and clinical usefulness.

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