How are sepsis and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) differentiated?

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

Sepsis is a systemic response to infection. It is identical to SIRS, except that it must result specifically from infection rather than from any of the noninfectious insults that may also cause SIRS (see the image below). That sepsis and SIRS are phenotypically similar underscores a common inflammatory pathway causing both.

Venn diagram showing overlap of infection, bactere Venn diagram showing overlap of infection, bacteremia, sepsis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and multiorgan dysfunction.

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