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Haemodynamic profiles of etomidate vs propofol for induction of anaesthesia: a randomised controlled trial in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

BACKGROUND: Etomidate is frequently selected over propofol for induction of anaesthesia because of a putatively favourable haemodynamic profile, but data confirming this perception are limited.

METHODS: Patients undergoing cardiac surgery were randomised to induction of anaesthesia with propofol or etomidate. Phase I (n=75) was conducted as open-label, whereas Phase II (n=75) was double blind. Mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) and boluses of vasopressor administered after induction were recorded. The primary endpoint was the area under the curve below baseline MAP (MAP-time integral) during the 10 min after induction. Secondary endpoints were the use of vasopressors over the same period, and the effect of blinding on the aforementioned endpoints. Groups were compared using regression models with phase and anaesthetist as factors.

RESULTS: The mean difference between etomidate and propofol in the MAP-time integral below baseline was 2244 mm Hg s (95% confidence interval, 581-3906; P=0.009), representing a 34% greater reduction with propofol. Overall, vasopressors were used in 10/75 patients in the etomidate group vs 21/75 in the propofol group (P=0.38), and in 20/74 patients during the blinded phase vs 11/76 during the open-label phase (P=0.31). The interaction between randomisation and phase (open-labelled or blinded) was not significant for either primary (P=0.73) or secondary endpoints (P=0.90).

CONCLUSIONS: Propofol caused a 34% greater reduction in MAP-time integral from baseline after induction of anaesthesia than etomidate, despite more frequent use of vasopressors with propofol, confirming the superior haemodynamic profile of etomidate in this context. The proportion of patients receiving vasopressors increased slightly, albeit not significantly, in both groups in the blinded phase.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12614000717651.

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