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J Crit Care. 2019 Feb;49:99-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2018.10.029. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Vasopressin vs noradrenaline: Have we found the perfect recipe to improve outcome in septic shock?

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Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.
Department of Critical Care, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital, W2 1NY, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Surgery and Trauma, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital, W2 1NY London, United Kingdom. Electronic address:



The metabolic and circulatory disturbances in patients with septic shock results in a high mortality rate. There is a lack of high-level evidence on the optimal approach. We present a meta-analysis elucidating the outcomes of regimes with only noradrenaline versus a combination of noradrenaline and vasopressin in managing septic shock.


A literature search of studies comparing the use of noradrenaline and vasopressin in septic shock was conducted, using MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. The primary outcome evaluated was mortality rate. Subgroup analysis of secondary measures was also conducted using Review Manager 5.3 software.


Four RCTs of 1039 patients were included. There is good evidence supporting a comparable mortality rate (RR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.78, 1.08, p = .32, I2 = 0%), and moderate evidence supporting an equivalent length of ICU stay (MD: 0.14, 95% CI: -1.37, 1.65, p = .86, I2 = 46%) and occurrence of adverse events (RR: 1.19, 95% CI: 0.83, 1.70, p = .35, I2 = 13%) between the two cohorts.


The two regimes have equivalent outcomes, but vasopressin has a role in selected patients experiencing less severe septic shock beyond a 36-h period. Further work will make definitive clinical recommendations for optimal strategy of vasopressin or noradrenaline usage.


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