Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 880–887 | Cite as

Aerosolized prostacyclin and inhaled nitric oxide in septic shock — different effects on splanchnic oxygenation?

  • O. Eichelbrönner
  • H. Reinelt
  • H. Wiedeck
  • M. Mezödy
  • R. Rossaint
  • M. Georgieff
  • P. Radermacher



To compare the effects of inhaled nitric oxide and aerosolized prostacyclin (PGI2) on hemodynamics and gas exchange as well as on the indocyanine-green plasma disappearance rate and gastric intramucosal pH in patients with septic shock.


Prospective, randomized, interventional clinical study.


Intensive care unit in a university hospital.


Sixteen patients with pulmonary hypertension and septic shock according to the criteria of the ACCP/SCCM consensus conference all requiring norepinephrine and/or epinephrine to maintain mean arterial blood pressure above 65 mmHg.

Methods and interventions

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either nitric oxide or aerosolized prostacyclin. Nitric oxide was inhaled using a commercially available delivery system, prostacyclin was administered with a modified ultrasound nebulizer. Both nitric oxide and prostacyclin were incrementally adjusted to obtain a 15% decrease of mean pulmonary artery pressure. Hemodynamics and gas exchange as well as indocyaninegreen plasma disappearance rate and gastric intramucosal pH were determined at baseline after 90 min in steady state, after 90 min of nitric oxide inhalation or prostacyclin aerosol administration had elapsed in stable conditions, and after 90 min in stable conditions after nitric oxide or prostacyclin with-drawal.


Both inhaled nitric oxide and aerosolized prostacyclin selectively reduced the mean pulmonary artery pressure from 35±4, 30±4 mmHg (p<0.05) and 34±4 to 30±3 mmHg (p<0.05) respectively; after removal of nitric oxide and prostacyclin, the mean pulmonary artery pressure returned to the baseline values. Systemic hemodynamics remained unaltered during the vasodilator treatment. While the mean PaO2 was not significantly influenced, it increased in 4/8 of the NO- and 3/8 of the PGI2 — treated patients. Neither of the drugs influenced indocyanine-green plasma disappearance rate, but prostacyclin — unlike nitric oxide — significantly increased gastric intramucosal pH (from 7.26±0.07 to 7.30±0.05,p<0.05) which remained elevated in four of these patients after prostacyclin removal, and decreased the arterial-gastric mucosal pressure of carbon dioxide gap from 19±6 to 15±4 mmHg (p<0.05).


Our data suggest that aerosolized prostacyclin — unlike nitric oxide — has similar beneficial effects on splanchnic perfusion and oxygenation as intravenous prostacyclin without detrimental effects on systemic hemodynamics. The different effects of prostacyclin and nitric oxide might be explained by the longer half-life of prostacyclin associated with a certain spillover into the systemic circulation.

Key words

Septic shock Nitric oxide Prostacyclin Gastric intramucosal pH PCO2 gap Splanchnic oxygenation Indocyanine-green extraction 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Eichelbrönner
    • 1
  • H. Reinelt
    • 1
  • H. Wiedeck
    • 1
  • M. Mezödy
    • 2
  • R. Rossaint
    • 3
  • M. Georgieff
    • 1
  • P. Radermacher
    • 1
  1. 1.Klinik für Anästhesiologie und IntensivmedizinKlinikum der Universität UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineSemmelweis-UniversitätBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Klinik für Anästhesie und Operative Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Rudolf VirchowHumboldt-UniversitätBerlinGermany

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