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Physiology and classification of shock in children

Wendy J Pomerantz, MD, MS
Mark G Roback, MD
Section Editor
Susan B Torrey, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


This topic will review the physiologic determinants and classification of shock. The initial evaluation and management of shock in children, in general, and hypovolemic and septic shock, specifically, are discussed separately. (See "Initial evaluation of shock in children" and "Initial management of shock in children" and "Hypovolemic shock in children: Initial evaluation and management" and "Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and sepsis in children: Definitions, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis".)


Shock is a physiologic state characterized by a significant, systemic reduction in tissue perfusion, resulting in decreased tissue oxygen delivery. Although the effects of inadequate tissue perfusion are initially reversible, prolonged oxygen deprivation leads to generalized cellular hypoxia and derangement of critical biochemical processes, including [1,2]:

Cell membrane ion pump dysfunction

Intracellular edema

Leakage of intracellular contents into the extracellular space


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Dec 17, 2014.
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