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Anaesthesia. 2008 Mar;63(3):228-34. Epub 2007 Dec 13.

Vasopressin in catecholamine-refractory shock in children.

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Australian National University, Medical School, The Centre for Newborn Care, Canberra, Australia.


Severe septic and cardiogenic shock is associated with a high mortality in neonates, children and adolescents. Common therapies include the administration of fluids and the use of conventional inotropes. However, in severe forms of shock, cardio-circulatory failure may be secondary to profound vasoparalysis and unresponsive to conventional therapies. We reviewed the literature on the use of arginine-vasopressin (AVP) and terlipressin (TP) as a rescue therapy in neonates, children and adolescents with catecholamine-refractory shock or cardio-circulatory arrest. We identified 17 reports (11 case series, 6 case reports) on a total of 109 patients. Only two studies were prospective. The age of treated patients ranged from extremely low birth weight infants of 23 weeks' gestation to a 19-year-old adolescent. The most common indication for either drug was catecholamine-refractory septic shock (nine reports). Commonly reported responses following AVP/TP administration were a rapid increase in systemic arterial blood pressure, an increase in urine output, and a decrease in serum lactate. In most reports, AVP and TP had a significant impact on the required dose of inotropes which could be reduced. Despite the use of AVP/TP, mortality was high (52/109). In view of the limited number of paediatric patients treated with AVP/TP, no definite recommendations on their use in children with severe forms of cardio-circulatory failure can be issued. There is a need for larger prospective trials assessing the efficacy and safety profiles of these drugs in a defined setting. Until more data are available, and taking into consideration the detrimental impact catecholamine-refractory shock has on children, the use of AVP/TP as a rescue therapy should be considered on an individual basis.

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