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Crit Care Med. 2004 Apr;32(4):1035-40.

Effects of norepinephrine and dobutamine on pressure load-induced right ventricular failure.

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Laboratory of Physiology, Free University of Brussels, Belgium.



A transient increase in pulmonary arterial (PA) pressure can persistently depress right ventricular (RV) contractility. We investigated the effects norepinephrine and dobutamine on RV-PA coupling in this model of RV failure.


Prospective, controlled, randomized animal study.


University research laboratory.


Twenty-two anesthetized dogs.


Animals underwent transient (90-min) PA constriction to induce persistent RV failure. They were randomly assigned to control, norepinephrine, or dobutamine group. Norepinephrine was administered at 0.1 and 0.5 microg x kg x min or dobutamine at 5 and 10 microg x kg x min.


We measured PA distal resistance and proximal elastance by pressure-flow relationships and vascular impedance. We also measured RV contractility by the end-systolic pressure-volume relationship (Ees), PA effective elastance by the end-diastolic to end-systolic relationship (Ea), and RV-PA coupling efficiency by the Ees/Ea ratio. The transient PA constriction persistently increased PA resistance and elastance, increased Ea from 0.8+/-0.1 to 2.7+/-0.3 mmHg/mL, decreased Ees from 1.1+/-0.1 to 0.5+/-0.1 mm Hg/mL, and decreased Ees/Ea from 1.2+/-0.1 to 0.2+/-0.1. Norepinephrine restored arterial pressure, increased RV contractility, and increased but did not normalize RV-PA coupling and cardiac output. Dobutamine restored arterial pressure, markedly increased RV contractility, and normalized RV-PA coupling and cardiac output. Compared with norepinephrine, dobutamine decreased PA resistance and elastance and increased RV contractility and RV-PA coupling.


A transient increase in PA pressure persistently worsens PA hemodynamics, RV contractility, RV-PA coupling, and cardiac output. Dobutamine restores RV-PA coupling and cardiac output better than norepinephrine because of its more pronounced inotropic effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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