Randomized trial of dobutamine versus dopamine in preterm infants with low systemic blood flow

J Pediatr. 2002 Feb;140(2):183-91. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2002.120834.


Objective: Our purpose was to determine if dobutamine or dopamine results in greater improvements in systemic blood flow in very preterm infants with low flow during the first 24 hours of life.

Study design: A 2-center, randomized, double-blind study. Infants (n = 42) with low superior vena cava (SVC) flow (<41 mL/kg/min) in the first 12 hours were randomly assigned to receive 10 mL/kg normal saline solution, followed by 10 microg/kg/minute of dobutamine or dopamine. If low flow persisted or recurred, the inotrope was increased to 20 microg/kg/minute, with crossover to the other inotrope if treatment failed to maintain flow.

Results: Volume produced a more significant increase in SVC flow than dopamine (+43%). At the highest dose, dobutamine resulted in a significantly greater increase in SVC flow than dopamine (mean, +9.9 vs -3.2 mL/kg/min, P =.02). Dopamine resulted in a significantly greater increase in blood pressure. Infants receiving dobutamine only at 24 hours had a greater right ventricular output than infants receiving dopamine (mean, 295 vs 167 mL/kg/min, P <.001). Forty percent failed to increase or maintain SVC flow in response to either inotrope. No significant differences in mortality or morbidity were found.

Conclusions: Dobutamine produced a greater increase in blood flow than dopamine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Circulation / drug effects*
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dobutamine / therapeutic use*
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Vena Cava, Superior / physiology*


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Dobutamine
  • Dopamine