Vasopressor use and effect on blood pressure after severe adult traumatic brain injury

Neurocrit Care. 2011 Aug;15(1):46-54. doi: 10.1007/s12028-010-9448-9.


Background: We describe institutional vasopressor usage, and examine the effect of vasopressors on hemodynamics: heart rate (HR), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), brain tissue oxygenation (PbtO(2)), and jugular venous oximetry (SjVO(2)) in adults with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 114 severely head injured patients who were admitted to the neurocritical care unit of Level 1 trauma center and who received vasopressors (phenylephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, vasopressin or epinephrine) to increase blood pressure

Results: Phenylephrine was the most commonly used vasopressor (43%), followed by norepinephrine (30%), dopamine (22%), and vasopressin (5%). Adjusted for age, gender, injury severity score, vasopressor dose, baseline blood pressure, fluid administration, propofol sedation, and hypertonic saline infusion, phenylephrine use was associated with 8 mmHg higher mean arterial pressure (MAP) than dopamine (P = 0.03), and 12 mmHg higher cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) than norepinephrine (P = 0.02) during the 3 h after vasopressor start. There was no difference in ICP between the drug groups, either at baseline or after vasopressor treatment.

Conclusions: Most severe TBI patients received phenylephrine. Patients who received phenylephrine had higher MAP and CPP than patients who received dopamine and norepinephrine, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Pressure / physiology
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / therapeutic use
  • Phenylephrine / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Vasopressins / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Vasopressins
  • Phenylephrine
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine