Nitric oxide inhalation in the treatment of right ventricular dysfunction following left ventricular assist device implantation

Frank Wagner, Michael Dandel, Grischa Günther, Matthias Loebe, Ingram Schulze-Neick, Ullrich Laucke, Rainer Kuhly, Yuguo Weng, Roland Hetzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Following left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation in end-stage heart failure, the management of right ventricular dysfunction presents a therapeutic problem unresolved by conventional drug therapy (catecholamines, nitrates, and prostacyclin). This study was performed to investigate the effects of supplemental inhalation of nitric oxide (NO), a selective pulmonary vasodilator, postoperatively and prospectively. Methods and Results: Intraindividual dose titration of NO was performed (0 to 40 ppm) according to a standardized protocol. Thereafter treatment was continued with the individually most effective dose of NO (25 to 40 ppm). In 8 consecutive male patients presenting with right ventricular dysfunction postoperatively, a significant dose-dependent improvement in hemodynamic function was observed: pulmonary vascular resistance decreased from 336±110 to 210±59 dynes · s · cm-5 (P<.0001), cardiac index rose from 2.0±0.4 to 2.7±0.4 L · min-1 m-2 (P<.003) at 40 ppm; doses of >20 ppm were effective in increasing cardiac index (P<.05). With continuous NO inhalation up to 48 hours, pulmonary vascular resistance decreased further to 155±33 dynes · s · cm-5 (P<.0001) as the cardiac index increased to 3.3±0.6 L · min-1 · m-2 (P<.003). Pulmonary artery pressure decreased (P<.0001) as did systemic vascular resistance with hemodynamic improvement (P<.01). Central venous pressure and mean arterial pressure remained unchanged. Right ventricular, ejection fraction at transesophageal echocardiography increased from 24±7% to 44±7% (P<.01) at the end of the study, and right ventricular end-diastolic volume decreased (P<.05). Weaning from NO therapy was successful at 2 to 8 days, and all patients were extubated. Right ventricular function remained stable thereafter. Conclusions: In the treatment of right ventricular dysfunction following LVAD implantation, inhalation of NO markedly decreased fight ventricular afterload by its selective vasodilating effects on the pulmonary circulation without producing systemic hypotension; this merits further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number9 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 4 1997


  • Heart failure
  • Heart-assist device
  • Hemodynamics
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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