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Neurosurgery. 1986 May;18(5):565-7.

Prolonged hemodynamic maintenance by the combined administration of vasopressin and epinephrine in brain death: a clinical study.


The present study attempted long term hemodynamic maintenance in 16 adult brain-dead patients, 14 with head injury and 2 with cerebrovascular accidents. In addition to respiratory and fluid management, 10 were treated with continuous infusion of epinephrine to maintain systolic blood pressure above 90 mm Hg. The remaining 6 patients each received a continuous infusion of synthetic arginine vasopressin (ADH) at a rate of 1 or 2 units/hour (285 +/- 45 microunits/kg/minute) simultaneously with epinephrine. The 10 patients treated with epinephrine alone all succumbed to cardiac arrest within 48 hours of brain death, with a mean survival time of 24.1 +/- 17.2 hours. In the patients who received simultaneous ADH infusion, a minimal dose of epinephrine of no more than 0.5 mg/hr in most instances sufficed to maintain blood pressure. Their mean survival time after brain death was remarkably prolonged to 23.1 +/- 19.1 days. In brain death, ADH plays a critical role in hemodynamic maintenance, and ADH administration permits long term hemodynamic stabilization of brain-death patients, offering increasing opportunities for organ transplantation.

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