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Dopamine increases renal oxygenation: a clinical study in post-cardiac surgery patients


Sven-Erik Ricksten
Department of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Intensive Care
Sahlgrenska University Hospital
S-413 45 Göteborg


Background: Imbalance of the renal medullary oxygen supply/demand relationship can cause ischaemic acute renal failure (ARF). The use of dopamine for prevention/treatment of ischaemic ARF has been questioned. It has been suggested that dopamine may increase renal oxygen consumption (RVO2) due to increased solute delivery to tubular cells, which may jeopardise renal oxygenation. Information on the effects of dopamine on renal perfusion, filtration and oxygenation in man is, however, lacking. We evaluated the effects of dopamine on renal blood flow (RBF), glomerular filtration rate (GFR), RVO2 and renal O2 demand/supply relationship, i.e. renal oxygen extraction (RO2Ex).

Methods: Twelve uncomplicated, mechanically ventilated and sedated post-cardiac surgery patients with pre-operatively normal renal function were studied. Dopamine was sequentially infused at 2 and 4 ug/kg/min. Systemic haemodynamics were evaluated by a pulmonary artery catheter. Absolute RBF was measured using two independent techniques: by the renal vein thermodilution technique and by infusion clearance of paraaminohippuric acid (PAH), with a correction for renal extraction of PAH. The filtration fraction (FF) was measured by the renal extraction of 51Cr-EDTA.

Results: Neither GFR, tubular sodium reabsorption nor RVO2 was affected by dopamine, which increased RBF (45–55%) with both methods, decreased renal vascular resistance (30–35%), FF (21–26%) and RO2Ex (28–34%). The RBF/CI ratio increased with dopamine. Dopamine decreased renal PAH extraction, suggestive of a flow distribution to the medulla.

Conclusions: In post-cardiac surgery patients, dopamine increases the renal oxygenation by a pronounced renal pre-and post-glomerular vasodilation with no increases in GFR, tubular sodium reabsorption or renal oxygen consumption.