Randomized controlled trial of inhaled nitric oxide for the treatment of microcirculatory dysfunction in patients with sepsis*

Stephen Trzeciak, Lindsey J Glaspey, R Phillip Dellinger, Paige Durflinger, Keith Anderson, Cameron Dezfulian, Brian W Roberts, Michael E Chansky, Joseph E Parrillo, Steven M Hollenberg
Critical Care Medicine 2014, 42 (12): 2482-92

OBJECTIVES: Sepsis treatment guidelines recommend macrocirculatory hemodynamic optimization; however, microcirculatory dysfunction is integral to sepsis pathogenesis. We aimed to test the hypothesis that following macrocirculatory optimization, inhaled nitric oxide would improve microcirculation in patients with sepsis and that improved microcirculation would improve lactate clearance and multiple organ dysfunction.

DESIGN: Randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial.

SETTING: Single urban academic medical center.

PATIENTS: Adult patients with severe sepsis and systolic blood pressure less than 90 mm Hg despite intravascular volume expansion and/or serum lactate greater than or equal to 4.0 mmol/L.

INTERVENTIONS: After achievement of macrocirculatory resuscitation goals, we randomized patients to 6 hours of inhaled nitric oxide (40 ppm) or sham inhaled nitric oxide administration. We administered study drug via a specialized delivery device that concealed treatment allocation so that investigators and clinical staff remained blinded.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We performed sidestream dark-field videomicroscopy of the sublingual microcirculation prior to and 2 hours after study drug initiation. The primary outcome measure was the change in microcirculatory flow index. Secondary outcomes were lactate clearance and change in Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score. We enrolled 50 patients (28 of 50 [56%] requiring vasopressor agents; 15 of 50 [30%] died). Although inhaled nitric oxide significantly raised plasma nitrite levels, it did not improve microcirculatory flow, lactate clearance, or organ dysfunction. In contrast to previous studies conducted during the earliest phase of resuscitation, we found no association between changes in microcirculatory flow and lactate clearance or organ dysfunction.

CONCLUSIONS: Following macrocirculatory optimization, inhaled nitric oxide at 40 ppm did not augment microcirculatory perfusion in patients with sepsis. Further, we found no association between microcirculatory perfusion and multiple organ dysfunction after initial resuscitation.

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