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BACKGROUND: Vasopressin (VP) shows promise as a pressor agent in animals and adult human cardiac arrest and resuscitation, but has not been studied for pressor effect in critically ill or arrested children. VP infusion is routine treatment for diabetes insipidus during brain death evaluation and organ recovery. We hypothesized that low dose VP infusion during organ recovery in critically ill children exerts a pressor effect, without major organ toxicity.

METHODS: 34 VP-treated and 29 age-matched critically ill controls (C) < or =18 years were retrospectively reviewed during brain death evaluation and organ recovery. VP infusion protocol titrated VP dose clinically to urine output, with high variability. Pressor and inotrope management was titrated clinically to BP, cerebral perfusion and central venous pressures (when available) and peripheral perfusion with similar protocol targets for pre-load in VP and C groups. Outcome measures include dose, type and number of pressors and inotropes. Organ function was assessed at recovery and 48 h post-transplant by independent surgeon and transplant program organ function criteria. Analysis by Odds Ratio (OR), and chi-square.

RESULTS: VP dose averaged 0.041+/-0.069 U/kg/h. Average baseline mean arterial pressure (MAP) before VP infusion was 79+/-17 mmHg VP and 76+/-14 mm Hg C (P=0.6). Subsequent average MAP were: 82+/-21 mmHgVP after VP infusion versus 71+/-16 mmHg C (P=0.01) and 80+/-14 mmHg VP versus 68+/-22 mmHg C (P=0.01). Ability to wean/stop pressors and inotropes was: dopamine (14/23) 42% VP versus (10/26) 38% C (P=0.75), dobutamine (4/7) 57% VP versus (0/6) 0% C (P=0.026), epinephrine (4/5) 80% VP versus (0/6) 0% C (P=0.006), norepinephrine/phenylephrine (4/4) 100% VP versus (2/5) 40% C (P=0. 057). Alpha agonist pressor dependence was successfully weaned from 7/9 (78%) VP versus 0/9 (0%) C: odds ratio=7.3, (P

CONCLUSIONS: Low dose vasopressin infusion exerts a pressor effect in critically ill children treated for diabetes insipidus during brain death and organ recovery. VP treated patients were 7.3 times more likely to wean from alpha agonists than comparably managed age matched controls, without adverse affect on transplant organ function. We speculate that further prospective assessment of VP safety and efficacy as a pressor adjunct for resuscitation of critically ill children is warranted.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Toxicology Division, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine

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