Microcirculation Assessment in Shock Patients: The DAMIS Trial

In this post, I will discuss an article titled “Direct assessment of microcirculation in shock: a randomized-controlled multicenter study” (DAMIS trial) published in ‘Intensive Care Medicine.’ Shock is a life-threatening condition defined by a critical mismatch between oxygen supply and demand at the tissue level. In clinical settings, especially in ICUs, understanding and managing shock is pivotal. Microcirculation, the flow of blood through the smallest vessels, plays a crucial role in this scenario. The study we’re discussing today focuses on assessing the impact of real-time knowledge of sublingual microcirculation in patients with different types of shock.

DAMIS Trial on Microcirculation Overview

This study, known as the DAMIS trial, marks a significant effort in the field of intensive care medicine. Conducted across multiple hospitals in Germany, it involved adult patients admitted to the ICU with circulatory shock. These patients required vasopressors despite adequate fluid resuscitation and had elevated lactate levels, indicating a severe mismatch in oxygen supply and demand.

Methodology Explained

The study was unique in its approach. Patients were divided into two groups: one received standard care, while the other had their therapy plans adjusted based on sublingual microcirculatory perfusion variables. The sublingual microcirculation was assessed using advanced sidestream-dark field (SDF) video microscopy. This method was chosen for its non-invasive nature and its potential to provide real-time insights into the patient’s microcirculatory status.

In-Depth Analysis of Findings

The study included 141 patients, primarily suffering from cardiogenic and septic shock. The intervention group, where therapy was adjusted based on microcirculatory assessments, saw more frequent adjustments in fluids and vasoactive drugs. However, despite these adjustments, the study found no significant differences in the 30-day mortality rate or microcirculatory values between the two groups. This was an unexpected finding and has implications for how microcirculatory assessments are used in critical care.

Discussion on Clinical Implications

This segment of the podcast delves deeper into the clinical implications of the study. Despite the advanced technology used and the real-time adjustments in patient care based on microcirculatory assessments, the anticipated improvement in patient outcomes was not observed. This raises critical questions about the current understanding and management of shock in ICU settings. It also suggests that while microcirculatory assessments can inform clinical decisions, they may not directly translate to improved survival rates.


No study is without limitations, and the DAMIS trial is no exception. One of the major limitations was the lack of re-evaluation of the impact of interventions after 24 hours. This could imply that some treatments might have been ineffective or only partially effective. The study’s design also meant that the interventions were not binding, which could have influenced the decision-making process.

Conclusion and Future Directions

In conclusion, the DAMIS trial on microcirculation highlights the complexities and challenges in managing critically ill patients with shock. While real-time microcirculatory assessment influenced clinical decision-making, it did not lead to improved survival or other patient-centered outcomes. Future research should focus on optimizing these assessment methods and better integrating them into therapeutic strategies to enhance patient outcomes.

Citation for the DAMIS trial on microcirculation

Bruno RR, Wollborn J, Fengler K, Flick M, Wunder C, Allgäuer S, Thiele H, Schemmelmann M, Hornemann J, Moecke HME, Demirtas F, Palici L, Franz M, Saugel B, Kattan E, De Backer D, Bakker J, Hernandez G, Kelm M, Jung C. Direct assessment of microcirculation in shock: a randomized-controlled multicenter study. Intensive Care Med. 2023 Jun;49(6):645-655. doi: 10.1007/s00134-023-07098-5. Epub 2023 Jun 6. Erratum in: Intensive Care Med. 2023 Oct;49(10):1279. PMID: 37278760; PMCID: PMC10242221.
Link to Article

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