Background and methods: Emergency endotracheal drug administration has become an acceptable route for drug delivery during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the site of endotracheal epinephrine injection is an important factor in its absorption. Epinephrine (1:1000), in a dose of 0.02 mg/kg diluted in 2 mL of saline, was given to ten anesthetized mongrel dogs. Each dog was studied twice: once when the epinephrine was injected into the endotracheal tube, and on another day, through the endotracheal tube via a flexible catheter wedged into a peripheral bronchus. Arterial blood samples for plasma epinephrine concentration determinations were collected, before and at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, and 30 mins after each intratracheal drug administration.
Results: Both routes of epinephrine administration significantly increased plasma concentrations within 1 min of injection. Higher plasma epinephrine concentrations were achieved after peripheral bronchial epinephrine administration (maximal concentration 8.9 +/- 3.2 vs. 2.0 +/- 0.4 ng/mL), and the total dose absorbed was significantly (76.5 +/- 13.5 vs. 36.7 +/- 6.5 ng/min/mL, p < .05) higher. The time interval to reach maximal concentration was significantly shorter with the peripheral bronchial dosing than with the endotracheal route (1.3 +/- 0.2 vs. 2.7 +/- 0.5 min, p < .05). Neither group demonstrated a significant change in heart rate, and both had similar, minor decreases in BP for > 2 to 5 mins. There were no significant differences between the arterial blood gases of the two groups at various stages of the experiment.
Conclusions: In dogs, epinephrine administered via the peripheral bronchial route has a clear pharmacologic advantage over the endotracheal route. This advantage may be more important during cardiopulmonary resuscitation conditions and other low flow states, and may account for the failure observed with the endotracheal route in recently published clinical reports.