Cardiovascular response to dopamine and early prediction of outcome in septic shock: a prospective multiple-center study

Crit Care Med. 2005 Oct;33(10):2172-7. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000181297.14319.3c.


Objectives: To compare mortality rates between dopamine-sensitive (Dopa-S) and dopamine-resistant (Dopa-R) septic shock patients, the latter group defined by a mean arterial pressure <70 mm Hg despite the use of 20 mug/kg/min dopamine.

Design: A human, prospective observational, multiple-center, clinical trial.

Setting: Ten intensive care units from ten hospitals.

Patients: 110 patients with septic shocks.

Interventions: Following volume resuscitation, patients were treated by a rapid increase in dopamine infusion from 10 to 20 mug/kg/min. If mean arterial pressure remained <70 mm Hg, dopamine treatment was promptly switched to norepinephrine or epinephrine.

Measurements and main results: Dopamine sensitivity, arterial gas, lactate, and organ system failure scores were measured at admission and after 6, 12, 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 hrs. The overall 28-day mortality rate was 54% for the entire population under study. In multivariate analysis, independent predictors of death were dopamine resistance (odds ratio, 9.5; 95% confidence interval, 3-25), arterial lactate >3.5 mmol/L (odds ratio, 1.75; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.55), and Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment score >10 (odds ratio, 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-2.12). Of the 110 patients studied, 66 were observed to be resistant to dopamine (60%). In the Dopa-S group, the 28-day mortality rate was 16% (seven of 44 patients) compared with 78% (52 of 66 patients) in the Dopa-R group (p = .0006). The capacity of dopamine resistance to predict death was associated with a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 74%. At 24 hrs, the association of dopamine resistance to a lactate level >3.5 mmol/L improved the prognostic value (sensitivity, 90%, specificity, 92%).

Conclusions: Dopamine sensitivity is associated with decreased mortality rate. Early recognition of dopamine resistant septic shock could allow for better screening of patients with an ominous prognosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiotonic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dopamine / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shock, Septic / drug therapy*
  • Shock, Septic / mortality*
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Dopamine