Effects of epinephrine compared with the combination of dobutamine and norepinephrine on gastric perfusion in septic shock

Philippe Seguin, Eric Bellissant, Yves Le Tulzo, Bruno Laviolle, Yvon Lessard, Rémy Thomas, Yannick Mallédant
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2002, 71 (5): 381-8

OBJECTIVE: In septic shock, the alteration of the gut barrier contributes to the development of multiple organ failure. The aim of the study was to compare epinephrine with the combination of dobutamine and norepinephrine on gastric perfusion in patients with septic shock.

METHODS: In a prospective randomized study on 2 parallel groups, systemic and pulmonary hemodynamics (arterial and Swan-Ganz catheters), gastric mucosal blood flow (laser Doppler flowmetry technique), hepatic function (indocyanine green clearance), and blood gases were evaluated just before catecholamine infusion and when mean arterial pressure reached 70 to 80 mm Hg. Epinephrine or norepinephrine were titrated (from 0.1 microg/kg per minute, with 0.2 microg/kg per minute increases every 5 minutes). Dobutamine was continuously infused at 5 microg/kg per minute.

RESULTS: Twenty-two patients were included (11 in each group). At randomization there was no significant difference between groups. At the time of evaluation, mean arterial pressure was 78 +/- 3 and 77 +/- 5 mm Hg in the epinephrine and dobutamine-norepinephrine groups, respectively. There was no significant difference between groups regardless of the systemic and pulmonary hemodynamic or blood gas variable considered. Nevertheless, compared with dobutamine-norepinephrine, epinephrine tended to induce greater values for cardiac index (5.0 +/- 1.6 versus 4.2 +/- 1.5 L/min per square meter; P =.078) and oxygen transport (617 +/- 166 versus 481 +/- 229 mL/min per square meter; P =.068). Epinephrine also induced significantly greater values of gastric mucosal blood flow (662 +/- 210 versus 546 +/- 200 units; P =.011) but did not modify indocyanine green clearance.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with septic shock, at doses that induced the same mean arterial pressure, epinephrine enhanced more gastric mucosal blood flow than the combination of dobutamine at 5 microg/kg per minute and norepinephrine. This effect was probably a result of higher cardiac index.

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