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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2005 Aug;18(4):396-404.

Arginine vasopressin as a rescue vasopressor agent in the operating room.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.



This review gives an overview of the current knowledge and research on the use of arginine vasopressin in cardiac arrest and severe shock states.


Animal models have revealed the effectiveness of arginine vasopressin in increasing vital organ perfusion during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A multicentre trial compared arginine vasopressin and epinephrine in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, and documented a significant improvement in hospital discharge rates in arginine vasopressin-treated (up to 2 x 40 IU) patients with asystole, and a significant benefit of the combined administration of arginine vasopressin and epinephrine on hospital discharge, irrespective of the underlying electrocardiographic rhythm. The stabilization of advanced shock states unresponsive to conventional therapy can be achieved by supplementary arginine vasopressin (1-4 IU/h). A randomized, controlled trial found that the combined infusion of arginine vasopressin and norepinephrine was superior to norepinephrine alone in reversing advanced vasodilatory shock. Furthermore, the successful employment of arginine vasopressin in uncontrolled haemorrhagic shock and other shock states, such as anaphylaxis, hypotension during spinal/epidural anaesthesia, postcardiotomy shock, acute brain injury, brain-dead organ donors, perioperative hypotension in patients chronically treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, shock after pheochromocytoma surgery, and carcinoid crisis have been reported.


Whereas arginine vasopressin in combination with epinephrine can significantly increase hospital discharge in cardiac arrest, arginine vasopressin combined with catecholamines improved haemodynamics in vasodilatory and haemorrhagic shock, but effects on outcome remain unknown. Nonetheless, in the perioperative setting, arginine vasopressin may already be considered as a potent adjunct vasopressor agent in advanced shock states unresponsive to conventional therapy.

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