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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1991 Oct;102(4):515-25.

Inhibition by dexamethasone of the reperfusion phenomena in cardiopulmonary bypass.

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  • 1Department of Cardio-Pulmonary Surgery, University Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands.


A placebo-controlled double-blind study of patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass was conducted, comparing the effects of dexamethasone and a placebo on the activation of the plasmatic systems and blood cells and on the postoperative course after cardiopulmonary bypass. In the placebo group two patterns of blood activation could be distinguished. From the start of bypass, blood-material interaction caused an increase in complement C3a and elastase concentration. After release of the aortic cross-clamp, a statistically significant increase was observed in tumor necrosis factor, leukotriene B4, and tissue plasminogen activator activity (p less than 0.01, p less than 0.05, p less than 0.05, respectively). Dexamethasone treatment was not able to inhibit complement activation and elastase release during cardiopulmonary bypass. However, dexamethasone treatment effectively inhibited the increase in tumor necrosis factor, leukotriene B4, and tissue plasminogen activator activity after release of the crossclamp (p less than 0.01 compared with the placebo group). In the postoperative period the patients in the placebo group had hyperthermia and hypotension and required considerable intravenous fluid administration and cardiotonic treatment. The dexamethasone-treated patients, however, showed normothermia (p less than 0.01), had significantly higher blood pressures (p less than 0.01) without supportive treatment, and consequently were in the intensive care unit for a shorter period of time. We conclude that dexamethasone prevents the hemodynamic instability after cardiopulmonary bypass and thus improves the postoperative course by inhibition of the leukocyte and tissue plasminogen activator activity generated after release of the aortic crossclamp.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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