Hemodynamic and metabolic effects of low-dose vasopressin infusions in vasodilatory septic shock

Isao Tsuneyoshi, Haruhiko Yamada, Yasuyuki Kakihana, Masataka Nakamura, Youichirou Nakano, Walter A. Boyle

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Objective: To investigate the physiologic effects of exogenous vasopressin as a potential alternative to traditional high-dose catecholamine therapy for septic patients with vascular hyporeactivity to catecholamines. Design: Prospective, case-controlled study. Setting: Intensive care unit of a university hospital. Patients: Vasopressin was infused in 16 critically ill septic patients who remained persistently hypotensive despite infusions of pharmacologic doses of catecholamines. Intervention: Continuous intravenous infusion of vasopressin at 0.04 units/min for 16 hrs, in place of escalating the amount of catecholamines being infused. Measurements and Main Results: After administration of vasopressin, systemic vascular resistance and mean arterial pressure were immediately and significantly increased in comparison with the values obtained just before vasopressin. When the vasopressin infusions were discontinued, mean arterial pressure decreased immediately and dramatically. We did not detect any obvious adverse cardiac effects during the vasopressin infusions. Vasopressin had no effect on other hemodynamic parameters or any of the metabolic parameters studied, including measures of oxygenation, plasma glucose, or electrolytes. Urine output increased significantly during the administration of vasopressin, although this effect may be nonspecific. Lactate concentrations decreased, particularly in the survival group, but the decreases were not significant. Overall survival was 56%. Conclusions: Low-dose vasopressin infusions increased mean arterial pressure, systemic vascular resistance, and urine output in patients with vasodilatory septic shock and hyporesponsiveness to catecholamines. The data indicate that low-dose vasopressin infusions may be useful in treating hypotension in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Complications
  • Critical care
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hypotension
  • Metabolism
  • Norepinephrine
  • Renal function
  • Septic shock
  • Treatment
  • Vascular reactivity
  • Vasopressin

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