Vasopressor and inotrope treatment for septic shock: An umbrella review of reviews

Sharon Einav, Yigal Helviz, Mariachiara Ippolito, Andrea Cortegiani
Journal of Critical Care 2021 May 31, 65: 65-71

PURPOSE: To review the characteristics, findings and quality of systematic reviews (SRs) on the effect of any vasopressor/inotrope on outcomes in adult patients with sepsis compared with either no treatment, another vasopressor or inotrope or fluids.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We systematically searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed and Embase (January 1993-March 2021). Descriptive statistics were used.

RESULTS: Among the 28 SRs identified, mortality was the primary outcome in most (26/28) and mortality was usually (23/28) studied using randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Fifteen SRs focused exclusively on patients with sepsis or septic shock. Sepsis and septic shock were always grouped for the analysis. Publication bias was consistently low when studied. The most consistent findings were a survival advantage with norepinephrine versus dopamine, which disappeared in analyses restricted to 28-day mortality, and more arrhythmias with dopamine. However, these analyses were dominated by a single study. Only 2 SRs were judged to be of moderate-high quality. Lack of blinding and attrition bias may have affected the outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: The quality of SRs on the effect of vasopressors/inotropes on the outcomes of adult patients with sepsis can be improved, but high-quality, multicenter, RCTs should be preferred to additional SRs on this topic.

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