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Ann Thorac Surg. 2007 Jan;83(1):68-71; discussion 71.

Effect of sildenafil on pulmonary artery pressure, systemic pressure, and nitric oxide utilization in patients with left ventricular assist devices.

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Department of Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA.



Pulmonary artery hypertension can complicate the early postoperative care of patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). Inhaled nitric oxide (INO) is frequently used to manipulate pulmonary resistance after LVADs have been placed. We evaluated the effect of oral sildenafil therapy on pulmonary artery pressure, systemic pressure, and nitric oxide utilization.


After Institutional Review Board approval, the records of 10 consecutive adult patients with LVADs and pulmonary hypertension who received sildenafil were reviewed. Demographics, surgical history, INO use, inotrope requirements, and hemodynamic response to oral sildenafil at multiple intervals were collected. Hemodynamic data were analyzed with a two-way analysis of variance of repeated measures with correction for multiple comparisons.


There were 8 men and 2 women with 6 Heartmate XVE LVADs and 4 Thoratec LVADs (both, Thoratec, Pleasanton, California). When weaning was attempted, 8 patients who received INO demonstrated rebound pulmonary hypertension or increased right heart dysfunction. All patients were on inotropic therapy with dobutamine and milrinone. Sildenafil produced a significant reduction in pulmonary artery systolic pressure within 90 minutes of oral administration (p = 0.042). Significant changes in systolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, systemic vascular resistance, and heart rate were not observed. All 8 patients receiving INO were weaned within 12 hours without recurrent pulmonary hypertension. All 10 patients were weaned from inotropic support within 72 hours. No patient suffered right-side heart failure requiring intervention.


Oral sildenafil represents a useful adjunctive therapy for patients with LVADs. In our series, it provided additional reduction of pulmonary artery pressure, and facilitated weaning from INO and inotropes without deleterious hemodynamic consequences.

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