Epinephrine impairs splanchnic perfusion in septic shock

A Meier-Hellmann, K Reinhart, D L Bredle, M Specht, C D Spies, L Hannemann
Critical Care Medicine 1997, 25 (3): 399-404

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of epinephrine on splanchnic perfusion and splanchnic oxygen uptake in patients with septic shock.

DESIGN: Prospective, controlled trial.

SETTING: University hospital intensive care unit (ICU).

PATIENTS: Eight patients with septic shock, according to the criteria of the 1992 American College of Chest Physicians/Society of Critical Care Medicine Consensus Conference, requiring treatment with vasopressors.

INTERVENTIONS: We compared in crossover design a 2-hr infusion of epinephrine with dobutamine plus norepinephrine in eight ICU patients with septic shock. Systemic and splanchnic hemodynamics and oxygen transport were measured before and during treatment with epinephrine.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: There was essentially no effect of epinephrine on the global parameters, except for increased lactate concentrations. There were marked effects on the regional variables; epinephrine caused lower splanchnic flow and oxygen uptake, lower mucosal pH, and higher hepatic vein lactate.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that undesirable splanchnic effects on patients in whom that region is particularly fragile should be considered when using epinephrine for septic shock treatment.

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