Background: Treatment of postoperative pulmonary hypertension with intravenous (IV) pulmonary vasodilators is hampered by the lack of selectivity. Inhaled nitric oxide produces selective pulmonary vasodilation; however, it requires a special device, and weaning can cause rebound. Oral sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type V inhibitor. Sildenafil can produce sustained pulmonary vasodilatation in patients with hypoxic or primary pulmonary hypertension; however, experience with postoperative pulmonary hypertension is limited. We report our initial experience with eight patients who received oral sildenafil as adjunctive therapy for postoperative pulmonary hypertension
Methods: We reviewed the charts of eight adult patients with postoperative pulmonary hypertension who received oral sildenafil (25 to 50 mg) to facilitate weaning of IV (milrinone, nitroglycerine, and sodium nitroprusside) and inhaled (nitric oxide) pulmonary vasodilators. Hemodynamic data were recorded before and 30 and 60 minutes after the initial dose of sildenafil.
Results: After the initial dose of sildenafil, mean pulmonary artery pressure was reduced by 20% and 22% at 30 and 60 minutes, respectively (p < 0.05). Pulmonary vascular resistance index decreased by 49% and 44% at 30 and 60 minutes, respectively (p < 0.05). Sildenafil had no clinically significant effects on cardiac index, mean arterial pressure, or systemic vascular resistance. Subsequent doses of sildenafil were administered at regular intervals, allowing successful weaning of concomitant pulmonary vasodilators.
Conclusions: Oral sildenafil is an effective agent for treatment of postoperative pulmonary hypertension and can be used to facilitate weaning of inhaled and IV pulmonary vasodilators.