Fixed-Dose Vasopressin Compared with Titrated Dopamine and Norepinephrine as Initial Vasopressor Therapy for Septic Shock


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Study Objective. To investigate the early blood pressure effects of vasopressin compared with titrated catecholamines as initial drug therapy in patients with septic shock.

Design. Retrospective cohort, single-center study.

Setting. Intensive care units at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Patients. Fifty, 49, and 51 intensive care patients treated initially with vasopressin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, respectively.

Intervention. Patients received either intravenous infusion of fixed-dose vasopressin 0.04 U/minute or titrated infusions of norepinephrine or dopamine for low systemic arterial pressures.

Measurements and Main Results. Patients treated with vasopressin, norepinephrine, and dopamine were similar in all measured characteristics except for their score on the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III (dopamine > vasopressin, p=0.049), renal comorbidities (dopamine > vasopressin, p=0.03) and baseline mean arterial pressure (MAP) (norepinephrine < vasopressin, p=0.005 or dopamine < vasopressin, p=0.05). In all patients, MAP 1 hour before and 1 hour after intervention, heart rate, and systolic blood pressure were obtained. No treatment differences were identified in achieving postvasopressin MAP after adjusting for APACHE III score, renal dysfunction, and baseline MAP. In patients receiving vasopressin, 28-day mortality was 52%, similar to those receiving norepinephrine (65%, p=0.28) and dopamine (60%, p=0.53).

Conclusion. Initial, fixed-dose vasopressin infusions increased MAP to 70 mm Hg or greater at 1 hour in intensive care patients with septic shock, similar to titrated norepinephrine or dopamine. Fixed-dose vasopressin appears appropriate as an alternative agent for hemodynamic support in patients with septic shock.