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Transplant Proc. 2013 Sep;45(7):2746-9. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2013.07.044.

Inhaled nitric oxide versus sodium nitroprusside for preoperative evaluation of pulmonary hypertension in heart transplant candidates.

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Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, A.O. Città della Salute e della Scienza, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Turin, Italy.



The development of pulmonary hypertension before heart transplantation increases the risk for postoperative right ventricular failure. Reversibility of pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), which indicates the feasibility of heart transplantation, can be tested with the use of intravenous vasodilators, such as sodium nitroprusside (NaNTP) or prostacyclin. However, the drawback of these drugs is the development of systemic hypotension. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safely and feasibility of inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) compared with sodium nitroprusside to test PVR reversibility, while avoiding systemic hypotension.


We included all patients who were affected by end stage heart failure undergoing evaluation for heart transplantation if they showed elevated PVR > 2.5 Wood units and mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) >25 mm Hg. The hemodynamic parameters measured by right heart catheterization were: systolic blood pressure (SBP), mPAP, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, and cardiac index (CI). The following variables were derived: transpulmonary gradient (TPG) and PVR. All patients were tested by both iNO (20-40 ppm) and intravenous NaNTP, at increasing dosages which were titrated based on systemic pressure. We randomly assigned the order of administration of iNO and NaNTP.


The 9 male candidates has an average age of 56 ± 4 years. Seven of the 9 (71%) had postischemic cardiomyopathy, and 2 had idiopathic cardiomyopathy. We observed a reduction of mPAP (32% and 14%), PVR (41% and 32%), TPG (20% and 26%), and SBP (17% and 5%) and an increase of CI with administration of NaNTP and iNO, respectively.


We observed a reduction in PVR and mPAP with administration of either iNO and NaNTP. A better effect of NaNTP was attributed to reducted post-load of the left ventricle. However, the main advantage of iNO was the absence of systemic hypotension and its selectivity for pulmonary vascular system, as underscored by TPG reduction.

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