Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 526–531 | Cite as

The physiological effects of vasopressin when used to control intra-abdominal bleeding

  • M. P. Shelly
  • R. Greatorex
  • R. Y. Calne
  • G. R. Park
Original Articles


Vasopressin was used in ten critically ill patients with massive intra-abdominal bleeding unresponsive to conventional therapy. Vasopressin controlled bleeding in four patients, three of whom had continued to bleed following laparotomy for haemostasis; in two other patients, bleeding was reduced. All the patients were intensively monitored throughout the period of the vasopressin treatment; this enabled other physiological effects of vasopressin to be documented and reported. Mean arterial pressure and central venous pressure increased following the administration of vasopressin and there was a decrease in heart rate. Core body temperature rose significantly. Although all the patients had impaired renal function before receiving vasopressin, five had a prompt diuresis following its administration. Eight patients died but only three of intra-adbominal bleeding; two patients survived to leave hospital. Four patients had post-mortem evidence of ischaemia in the heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract; vasopressin may have contributed to the development of this. Vasopressin may have a place in the management of patients with life-threatening intra-abdominal haemorrhage but its use should be confined to those patients in whom conventional therapy has failed.

Key words

Vasopressin Abdominal bleeding Cardiovascular measurements Renal failure 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Shelly
    • 1
  • R. Greatorex
    • 1
  • R. Y. Calne
    • 1
  • G. R. Park
    • 1
  1. 1.Addenbrooke's HospitalCambridgeUK

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