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Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Dec;82(6):2161-9.

Clinical indication for use and outcomes after inhaled nitric oxide therapy.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.



Inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) use is widespread, but the long-term outcomes after therapy in adult patients remain unknown.


All 376 patients receiving perioperative iNO (excluding pediatric and interventional cardiology procedures) at Columbia University Medical Center were prospectively followed from 2000 to 2003. Survival data were collected from chart review.


Inhaled nitric oxide was used to treat pulmonary and right ventricular failure in patients undergoing orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT, n = 67), orthotopic lung transplantation (n = 45), cardiac surgery (n = 105), and ventricular assist device placement (n = 66), and for hypoxemia in other surgery (n = 34) and medical patients (n = 59). Average follow-up was 2.9 +/- 1.0 years. Overall mortality was lowest when iNO was used after OHT (25.4%) and orthotopic lung transplantation (37.8%), intermediately after cardiac surgery (61%), ventricular assist device (62%), and other surgery patients (75%), and highest among medical patients (90%; all p < 0.005). The cost of iNO therapy was lower in transplantation versus medical patients, with a trend toward shorter duration of use. In multivariate analysis, respiratory failure and use in non-OHT were independent predictors of mortality (both p = 0.001). A risk score greater than 1 (score = non-OHT use 1, plus right ventricular failure 1) predicted a mortality of 76.5% versus 37.2% (p < 0.001).


Use of iNO for pulmonary hypertension in patients undergoing OHT and orthotopic lung transplantation was associated with a significantly lower overall mortality rate compared with its use after cardiac surgery or for hypoxemia in medical patients. Inhaled nitric oxide does not appear to be cost effective when treating hypoxemia in medical patients with high-risk scores and irreversible disease.

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