Hemodynamic effects of rescue protocol hydrocortisone in neonates with low cardiac output syndrome after cardiac surgery

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2005 Nov;6(6):655-9. doi: 10.1097/01.pcc.0000185487.69215.29.


Objective: To assess the hemodynamic effects and safety of hydrocortisone in neonates with low cardiac output syndrome requiring high levels of inotropic support and fluid resuscitation after cardiac surgery.

Design: Retrospective chart review.

Setting: Fifteen-bed pediatric cardiovascular intensive care unit.

Patients: Twelve neonates with low cardiac output syndrome after cardiac surgery to whom hydrocortisone was administered according to one of two dosing regimens (100 mg/[m.day] for 2 days, 50 mg/[m.day] for 2 days, and 25 mg/[m.day] for 1 day or 100 mg/[m.day] for 1 day, 50 mg/[m.day] for 2 days, and 25 mg/[m.day] for 2 days) were identified from the Department of Pharmacy database between September 2002 and January 2004.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: The mean and systolic blood pressure increased significantly 3 hrs after hydrocortisone treatment from the values preceding hydrocortisone administration. The mean blood pressure increased from 44.0+/-3.0 to 55.4+/-2.3 mm Hg (p=.01) and the systolic blood pressure increased from 64.2+/-4.7 to 78.3+/-3.4 mm Hg (p=.04). Comparable beneficial changes were also seen in the heart rate, which decreased from 168.3+/-4.6 to 148.3+/-5.6 beats/min (p=.004) after 24 hrs of hydrocortisone administration and remained at this level during the 72 hrs of follow-up. Significant weaning of epinephrine infusions was possible, from a mean dose of 0.16 to 0.06 microg/(kg.min) (p=.008), within 24 hrs after the initiation of steroid administration, and this reduction was not offset by increases in other inotropic agents. hydrocortisone administration caused nonsignificant increases in mean blood glucose concentration (from 116.2+/-20.6 to 156.0+/-25.6 mg/dL; p=.64), mean white blood cell count (from 16.6+/-1.6 to 18.9+/-2.6 x 10 U/L; p=.35), and sodium level (from 144.7+/-1.3 to 145.3+/-1.3 mmol/L; p=.51). Ten of the 12 patients (83.3%) survived.

Conclusion: Most of the hemodynamically compromised neonates who were unresponsive to high doses of inotropic agents and fluid resuscitation after heart surgery responded to hydrocortisone with improvement of hemodynamic parameters and a decrease in inotropic requirements.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cardiac Output, Low / drug therapy*
  • Cardiac Output, Low / etiology
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Hydrocortisone / therapeutic use*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Hydrocortisone