Inhaled nitric oxide plus iloprost in the setting of post-left assist device right heart dysfunction

Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Sep;94(3):792-8. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.04.046. Epub 2012 Jun 23.


Background: Pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular (RV) dysfunction may complicate the implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). We examined whether inhaled vasodilators can sufficiently reduce RV afterload, avoiding the need for temporary RV mechanical support.

Methods: The study includes 7 patients with RV dysfunction after LVAD insertion. Treatment consisted of inotropes, inhaled nitric oxide (10 ppm), and iloprost (10 μg) in repeated doses. Full hemodynamic profile was obtained before inhalation, during administration of inhaled NO alone (before and after iloprost), as well as after the first two doses of inhaled iloprost. Tricuspid annular velocity was estimated at baseline and before and after adding iloprost.

Results: There was a statistically significant reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), mean pulmonary artery pressure (MPAP), RV systolic pressure, and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, and a considerable increase in LVAD flow, LV flow rate index, and tricuspid annular velocity at all points of evaluation versus baseline. By the end of the protocol, MPAP/mean systemic arterial pressure, and PVR/systemic vascular resistance ratios were reduced by 0.17±0.03 (95% confidence interval, 0.10 to 0.25, p=0.001) and 0.12±0.025 (95% confidence interval, 0.06 to 0.18; p=0.003), respectively. The tricuspid annular velocity increased by 2.3±0.18 cm/s (95% confidence interval, 1.83 to 2.73 cm/s; p<0.001). Pairwise comparisons before and after iloprost showed an important decrease in PVR (p=0.022), MPAP (p=0.001), pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (p=0.002), and RV systolic pressure (p<0.001), and a rise in tricuspid annular velocity (p=0.008).

Conclusions: Inhaled vasodilators mainly affected the pulmonary vasculature. Combination treatment with inhaled NO and iloprost sufficiently decreased PVR and MPAP on the basis of an additive effect, improved RV function, and avoided the need for RV assist device.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Heart-Assist Devices / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality
  • Iloprost / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitric Oxide / administration & dosage*
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure / drug effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Resistance / drug effects
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / drug therapy*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / etiology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / mortality


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Iloprost