A very large proportion of extremely preterm infants receive treatments for hypotension. There are, however, marked variations in indications for treatment, and in the interventions used, between neonatal intensive care units and between neonatologists.
Methods: We performed systematic reviews of the literature in order to determine which preterm infants may benefit from treatment with interventions to elevate blood pressure (BP), and which interventions improve clinically important outcomes.
Results: Our review was not able to define a threshold BP that was significantly predictive of a poor outcome, nor whether any interventions for hypotensive infants improved outcomes, nor which interventions were more likely to be beneficial.
Conclusions: There is a distinct lack of prospective research of this issue, which prevents good clinical care. It is possible that a simple BP threshold that indicates the need for therapy does not exist, and other factors, such as the clinical status or systemic blood flow measurements, may be much more informative. Such a paradigm shift will also require careful prospective study.