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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012 May;70(5):1045-51. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2011.12.036. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Small bolus of esmolol effectively prevents sodium nitroprusside-induced reflex tachycardia without adversely affecting blood pressure.

Author information

  • 1Department of Dental Anesthesiology, Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka, Japan. hanamoto@dent.osaka-u.ac.jp



Hypotensive anesthesia with sodium nitroprusside (SNP) often is associated with reflex tachycardia. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a small bolus of esmolol could counteract SNP-induced reflex tachycardia and sympathetic activation without affecting blood pressure.


Using a time-series study design, 27 healthy young patients scheduled for mandibular osteotomy were enrolled in this study. General anesthesia was maintained with 2% sevoflurane and 67% nitrous oxide in oxygen. SNP was administered to decrease the mean arterial pressure to 55 to 65 mm Hg. When heart rate (HR) increased reflexively to higher than 95 beats/min from SNP-induced hypotension, esmolol 0.5 mg/kg was given. Blood pressure and HR were measured, and the low-frequency component (0.04 to 0.15 Hz) of systolic blood pressure variability and high-frequency component (0.15 to 0.4 Hz) of HR variability were calculated to evaluate the autonomic condition. Data were analyzed using 1-way analysis of variance after multiple comparisons or t test. P < .05 was considered statistically significant.


Of the 27 patients analyzed, 19 patients (70%) required esmolol. In these patients, SNP caused an increase in the low-frequency component of systolic blood pressure variability and a decrease in the high-frequency component of HR variability, leading to tachycardia (HR range, 95.9 ± 7.3 to 106.7 ± 7.4 beats/min; P < .001). Esmolol suppressed the effects of SNP on the low-frequency component of systolic blood pressure variability and high-frequency component of HR variability, resulting in an immediate decrease in HR to 86.9 ± 6.2 beats/min (P < .001), whereas mean arterial pressure remained unchanged.


A small bolus of esmolol can suppress reflex tachycardia without significantly changing mean arterial pressure. Thus, esmolol restores the autonomic imbalance induced by SNP during hypotensive anesthesia.

Copyright © 2012 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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