What is multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS)?

Updated: Jan 27, 2020
  • Author: Ali H Al-Khafaji, MD, MPH, FACP, FCCP, FCCM; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) is a continuum, with incremental degrees of physiologic derangements in individual organs; it is a process rather than a single event. Alteration in organ function can vary widely from a mild degree of organ dysfunction to completely irreversible organ failure. The degree of organ dysfunction has a major clinical impact.

In a classic 1975 editorial by Baue, the concept of “multiple, progressive or sequential systems failure” was formulated as the basis of a new clinical syndrome. [1] Several different terms were proposed thereafter (eg, multiple organ failure, multiple system organ failure, and multiple organ system failure) to describe this evolving clinical syndrome of otherwise unexplained progressive physiologic failure of several interdependent organ systems.

Eventually, the term MODS was proposed as a more appropriate description. MODS is defined as a clinical syndrome characterized by the development of progressive and potentially reversible physiologic dysfunction in 2 or more organs or organ systems that is induced by a variety of acute insults, including sepsis.

For patient education resources, see the Blood and Lymphatic System Center, as well as Sepsis (Blood Infection).


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