Role of vasopressor administration in patients with acute neurologic injury

Neurocrit Care. 2009;11(1):112-9. doi: 10.1007/s12028-009-9214-z. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


Introduction: Pharmacologic blood pressure elevation is often utilized to prevent or treat ischemia in patients with acute neurologic injury, and routinely requires administration of vasopressor agents. Depending on the indication, vasopressor agents may be administered to treat hypotension or to induce hypertension.

Methods: Although numerous guideline statements exist regarding the management of blood pressure in these patients, most recommendations are based largely on Class III evidence. Further, there are few randomized controlled trials comparing vasopressor agents in these patients and selection is often guided by expert consensus.

Results: We discuss the clinical evidence regarding vasopressor administration for blood pressure management in patients with acute neurologic injury. The effect of various vasopressors on cerebral hemodynamics is also discussed.

Conclusion: Although high-quality clinical data are scarce, the available evidence suggests that norepinephrine should be considered as the vasopressor of choice when blood pressure elevation is indicated in patients with acute neurologic injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Brain Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Critical Care*
  • Humans
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents