CICM Second Part Exam Practice SAQs 17012018

As prepared by Chris Nickson, here are the practice written questions from a recent CICM Second Part exam practice session at The Alfred ICU, with recommended reading from’s Critical Care Compendium and other FOAM sources:


Discuss the role of apnoeic oxygenation in the management of critically ill patients (100%)

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Compare and contrast toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) with acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD) (100%)

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TEN and acute GVHD disease are both multi-system skin disorders that both have high mortality. Though they can usually be distinguished by clinical presentation, histopathology is confirmatory. They may be difficult to distinguish in severe cases occuring after allogenic haematopoietic stem cell transplant.

Cause malignancy (carcinomas and lymphomas)
infection (Mycoplasma pneumoniae, herpes virus, hepatitis A)
drug induced (penicillins, sulfa drugs, quinolones, cephalosporins, anticonvulsants, COX-2, immunosuppressants, allopurinol, corticosteroids)post-SCT/ organ transplantpost-immunisation
Occurs after allogenic haematopoietic stem cell transplant (30-50%) due to graft immune response
Pathophysiology Immune-related cytotoxic reaction aimed at destroying keratinocytes that express a foreign antigen

Results in separation of the epidermis from the dermis

Antigens on the host cells are attacked by the donated T cells

Tissue damage results in cytokine storm

Organs/ sites primarily affected Skin (>30% BSA)

Mucosal membranes



GI tract

+/- other organs (e.g. lung)

Clinical features Occurs 1-8 weeks after cause

Flu-like prodrome (1d-3wks)

Mucositis then after 1-3d

skin rash – macular, with purpuric center, then vesicles, then sheet-like exfoliation

<100d after SCT

puriritic/ painful MP rash +/- vesicles

GI: mucositis, diarrhoea, ileus

Other mucosae and eyes

Complications Sepsis, scarring & strictures, vision impairment, bleeding, fluid loss (e.g. hypovolaemic shock and AKI), capillary leak (e.g. ARDS), death
Diagnosis Clinical presentation

Skin biopsy (early): Necrotic keratinocytes with full-thickness epithelial necrosis and detachment

Clinical presentation

Tissue biopsy: skin (eg, eosinophilic bodies, mononuclear infiltration), liver (eg, necrosis of the bile duct), and gut (eg, crypt-cell degeneration)

CT abdo findings


Specific therapy None proven by high quality trials, but options are:

  • Plasmapheresis
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • CSA
  • TNF-alpha inhibitors
  • IVIg
First line

  • Corticosteroids
  • +/- other immunosuppressants

Second line options

  • MMF/ CSA/ tacrolimus
  • ATG
  • Ruxilitinib
  • PUVA
  • Etc, etc!
Supportive care and monitoring
  • MDT approach
  • Severe cases referred to burns center
  • Wound care (e.g. dressings)
  • Treat infection (antimicrobials)
  • Analgesia and sedation
  • Eye care
  • Fluid replacement
  • Control bleeding (e.g. blood products)
  • TPN for GI mucosal involvement
Prognosis Predicted by SCORTEN

10-70% mortality (varies with quality of Rx and rapidity of Rx)

Varies with Grade I to IV

20% if complete response to steroids

80% mortality if refractory to steroids

50% develop chronic GVHD


Describe the Stewart (physico-chemical) approach to acid-base disturbances, and discuss the pros and cons of this method. (100%)

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You can access all the previous practice questions since 2014 here:
See this link on INTENSIVE for exam resources:

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