A comparison of labetalol and nitroprusside for inducing hypotension during major surgery

Anesth Analg. 1990 May;70(5):537-42. doi: 10.1213/00000539-199005000-00012.


The hemodynamic and intrapulmonary shunt effects of intravenous labetalol and nitroprusside were compared during induced hypotension for major spinal surgery. A randomized, double-blind protocol was used in which 20 patients, ASA physical status I or II, received either nitroprusside infusion (n = 10) or labetalol bolus injections of 10 mg every 10 min (n = 10) until mean arterial blood pressure was reduced to 55-60 mm Hg. Pulmonary artery pressures were measured and mixed venous samples obtained via a pulmonary artery catheter. Nitroprusside increased heart rate significantly more than labetalol during the period of hypotension. When compared with prehypotension baseline values, nitroprusside increased heart rate significantly with a concomitant significant decrease in systemic vascular resistance. Cardiac output increased significantly 60 min after hypotension was achieved in patients treated with nitroprusside. Systemic vascular resistance decreased significantly below baseline levels in patients treated with labetalol but without changes in cardiac output, heart rate, or mean pulmonary artery pressure. There was a 122% increase in intrapulmonary shunt with nitroprusside administration, compared with an 11% increase with labetalol. Labetalol was effective for inducing hypotension and was not associated with an increase in heart rate, intrapulmonary shunt, or cardiac output as seen with nitroprusside.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Female
  • Ferricyanides / pharmacology*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Controlled / methods*
  • Isoflurane
  • Labetalol / administration & dosage
  • Labetalol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery


  • Ferricyanides
  • Nitroprusside
  • Isoflurane
  • Labetalol