Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 10–26 | Cite as

Cardiopulmonary Bypass and the Pharmacokinetics of Drugs

An Update
  • W. A. Buylaert
  • L. L. Herregods
  • E. P. Mortier
  • M. G. Bogaert
Review Article Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Disease Processes


Cardiopulmonary bypass is accompanied by profound changes in the organism that may alter the pharmacokinetics of drugs. Drug distribution can be altered, for example, by changes in blood flow and by haemodilution, with a decrease in protein binding; a decrease in the elimination of some drugs can be caused by impairment of renal or hepatic clearance, due, for example, to lowered perfusion and hypothermia.

The subject was reviewed in the Journal in 1982, and the emphasis of the present review is on new data related to specific drugs. The following substances are dealt with: benzodiazepines, cephalosporins, digitalis glycosides, general anaesthetics, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin), lignocaine (lidocaine), muscle relaxants, nitroprusside, opiates, papaverine and propranolol. For many of these substances an abrupt decrease has been observed in serum concentration upon initiation of bypass, which is explained by haemodilution and an increase in distribution due to decreased protein binding. For nitrates and some opiates, adsorption to the bypass apparatus was shown to be important. The gradual increase in serum concentrations seen during cardiopulmonary bypass with some drugs after the initial fall is usually explained by redistribution of the drug and/or decrease in its elimination. The same phenomena are thought to explain why in the post-bypass period a concentration increase occurs, or at least a slower decrease than expected. However, drug elimination has been directly measured in only a few studies. The short duration of the bypass procedure and the continuous changes during the process hamper a rigorous pharmacokinetic evaluation. Studies allowing more precise understanding of the mechanisms underlying the observed concentration changes are needed, but are difficult to design. Similarly, more data are awaited on the pharmacodynamic and clinical consequences of the concentration changes.


Fentanyl Cardiopulmonary Bypass Alfentanil Lignocaine Etomidate 
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Copyright information

© ADIS Press Limited 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. Buylaert
    • 1
  • L. L. Herregods
    • 1
  • E. P. Mortier
    • 1
  • M. G. Bogaert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Anaesthesiology and Heymans Institute of PharmacologyUniversity Hospital and State University of GhentBelgium

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