Acute kidney injury (AKI), acute lung injury (ALI) and sepsis are all commonly encountered in critically ill patients. Although considered as separate conditions, largely for therapeutic purposes, a common inflammatory response is often implicated in their pathophysiologies and they are frequently present simultaneously. Mortality rates in critically ill patients suffering from renal failure, respiratory failure or severe sepsis are quite similar at about 40%, and all increase substantially when these conditions coexist. Most intensive care unit patients will die from multiple rather than individual organ failure, and further research is needed to evaluate the patterns of organ failure in surviving and nonsurviving critically ill patients, as well as the importance and mechanisms of organ-organ crosstalk in such patients.
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