STUDY OBJECTIVES: We tested the effects of continuous infusion of N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, on cardiovascular performance and pulmonary gas exchange in patients with hyperdynamic septic shock. DESIGN: Prospective clinical study. SETTING: ICU of a university hospital. PATIENTS: Eleven critically ill patients with severe refractory septic shock. INTERVENTIONS: Standard hemodynamic measurements were made and blood samples taken before, during, and after 12 h of continuous infusion of 1 mg/kg/h of L-NAME. MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Continuous infusion of L-NAME increased mean arterial pressure (MAP) from 65+/-3 (SEM) to 93+/-4 mm Hg and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) from 962+/-121 to 1,563+/-173 dyne x s x cm(-5)/m2. Parallel to this, cardiac index (CI) decreased from 4.8+/-0.4 to 3.9+/-0.4 L/min/m2 and myocardial stroke volume (SV) was reduced from 43+/-3 to 34+/-3 mL/m2. Left ventricular stroke work was increased in the first hour of L-NAME infusion from 31+/-3 to 43+/-4 g x m/m2 (all p<0.01 compared with baseline). Heart rate, cardiac filling pressures, and right ventricular stroke work did not change significantly (p>0.05). L-NAME increased the ratio of arterial PO2 to the fraction of inspired O2 from 167+/-23 to 212+/-27 mm Hg (p<0.05). Venous admixture (QVA/QT) was reduced from 19.4+/-2.6% to 14.2+/-2.1% (p<0.05) and oxygen extraction ratio increased from 21.1+/-2.4% to 25.3+/-2.7% (p<0.05). Oxygen delivery (DO2) was reduced following L-NAME, whereas oxygen uptake and arterial lactate and pH were unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged inhibition of NO synthesis with L-NAME can restore MAP and SVR in patients with severe septic shock. Myocardial SV and CI decrease, probably as a result of increased afterload, since heart rate and stroke work were not reduced. L-NAME can improve pulmonary gas exchange with a concomitant reduction in QVA/QT. L-NAME did not promote anaerobe metabolism despite a reduction in DO2.

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Chest: the cardiopulmonary and critical care journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Avontuur, J. A. M., Tutein Nolthenius, R. P., Buijk, S., Kanhai, K. J. K., & Bruining, H. (1998). Effect of L-NAME, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthesis, on cardiopulmonary function in human septic shock. Chest: the cardiopulmonary and critical care journal. Retrieved from