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Norepinephrine and dobutamine improve cardiac index equally by supporting opposite sides of the heart in an experimental model of chronic pulmonary hypertension

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Background: Pulmonary hypertension is a significant risk factor in patients undergoing surgery. The combined effects of general anaesthesia and positive pressure ventilation can aggravate this condition and cause increased pulmonary blood pressures, reduced systemic blood pressures and ventricular contractility. Although perioperative use of inotropic support or vasopressors is almost mandatory for these patients, preference is disputed. In this study, we investigated the effects of norepinephrine and dobutamine and their ability to improve the arterio-ventricular relationship and haemodynamics in pigs suffering from chronic pulmonary hypertension. Method: Pulmonary hypertension was induced in five pigs by banding the pulmonary artery at 2–3 weeks of age. Six pigs served as controls. After 16 weeks of pulmonary artery banding, the animals were re-examined under general anaesthesia using biventricular conductance catheters and a pulmonary artery catheter. After baseline measurements, the animals were exposed to both norepinephrine and dobutamine infusions in incremental doses, with a stabilising period in between the infusions. The hypothesis of differences between norepinephrine and dobutamine with incremental doses was tested using repeated two-way ANOVA and Bonferroni multiple comparisons post-test. Results: At baseline, pulmonary artery-banded animals had increased right ventricular pressure (+ 39%, p = 0.04), lower cardiac index (− 23% p = 0.04), lower systolic blood pressure (− 13%, p = 0.02) and reduced left ventricular end-diastolic volume (− 33%, p = 0.02). When incremental doses of norepinephrine and dobutamine were administered, the right ventricular arterio-ventricular coupling was improved only by dobutamine (p < 0.05). Norepinephrine increased both left ventricular end-diastolic volume and left ventricular contractility to a greater extent (p < 0.05) in pulmonary artery-banded animals. While the cardiac index was improved equally by norepinephrine and dobutamine treatments in pulmonary artery-banded animals, norepinephrine had a significantly greater effect on mean arterial pressure (p < 0.05) and diastolic arterial pressure (p < 0.05). Conclusion: While norepinephrine and dobutamine improved cardiac index equally, it was obtained in different manners. Dobutamine significantly improved the right ventricular function and the arterio-ventricular coupling. Norepinephrine increased systemic resistance, thereby improving arterial pressures and left ventricular systolic function by maintaining left ventricular end-diastolic volume.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalIntensive Care Medicine Experimental
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

    Research areas

  • Animal model, Dobutamine, Experimental model, Inotropes, Norepinephrine, Pulmonary hypertension, Vasopressor, Ventricular dysfunction

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