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Circulation. 1999 Nov 9;100(19 Suppl):II182-6.

Intravenous arginine-vasopressin in children with vasodilatory shock after cardiac surgery.

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  • 1Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Pediatric Cardiology, New York, NY, USA.



Recent investigations at our institution have studied a variety of vasodilatory shock states that are characterized by vasopressin deficiency and pressor hypersensitivity to the exogenous hormone. Our experience in adults prompted the use of arginine-vasopressin (AVP) in a similar group of critically ill children.


This report describes our early experience (from February 1997 through April 1998) in 11 profoundly ill infants and children (5 male, 6 female) ages 3 days to 15 years (median, 35 days) treated with AVP for hypotension after cardiac surgery which was refractory to standard cardiopressors. Although underlying heart disease was present (congenital heart defects in 10 and dilated cardiomyopathy in 1), only 2 patients had severely depressed cardiac function as demonstrated by 2D echocardiogram before administration of AVP. All patients were intubated and receiving multiple catecholamine pressors and inotropes, including dobutamine (n=10), epinephrine (n=8), milrinone (n=7), and dopamine (n=4) before receiving AVP. Five patients received AVP intraoperatively immediately after cardiopulmonary bypass, 5 in the intensive care unit within 12 hours of surgery, and 1 on postoperative day 2 for hypotension associated with sepsis. The dose of AVP was adjusted for patient size and ranged from 0.0003 to 0.002 U. kg(-1). min(-1). During the first hour of treatment with AVP, systolic blood pressure rose from 65+/-14 to 87+/-17 mm Hg (P<0. 0001; n=11), and epinephrine administration was decreased in 5 of 8 patients and increased in 1. Plasma AVP levels before treatment were available in 3 patients and demonstrated AVP depletion (median, 4.4 pg/mL; n=3). All 9 children with vasodilatory shock survived their intensive care unit stay. The 2 patients who received AVP in the setting of poor cardiac function died, despite transient improvement in blood pressure.


Infants and children with low blood pressure and adequate cardiac function after cardiac surgery respond to the pressor action of exogenous AVP. AVP deficiency may contribute to this hypotensive condition.

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