Effects of levosimendan on glomerular filtration rate, renal blood flow, and renal oxygenation after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass: a randomized placebo-controlled study

Crit Care Med. 2013 Oct;41(10):2328-35. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31828e946a.


Objectives: Acute kidney injury develops in a large proportion of patients after cardiac surgery because of the low cardiac output syndrome. The inodilator levosimendan increases cardiac output after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, but a detailed analysis of its effects on renal perfusion, glomerular filtration, and renal oxygenation in this group of patients is lacking. We therefore evaluated the effects of levosimendan on renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate, renal oxygen consumption, and renal oxygen demand/supply relationship, i.e., renal oxygen extraction, early after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.

Design: Prospective, placebo-controlled, and randomized trial.

Setting: Cardiothoracic ICU of a tertiary center.

Patients: Postcardiac surgery patients (n=30).

Interventions: The patients were randomized to receive levosimendan, 0.1 µg/kg/min after a loading dose of 12 µg/kg (n=15), or placebo (n=15).

Measurements and main results: The experimental procedure started 4-6 hours after surgery in the ICU during propofol sedation and mechanical ventilation. Systemic hemodynamic were evaluated by a pulmonary artery thermodilution catheter. Renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate were measured by the renal vein retrograde thermodilution technique and by renal extraction of Cr-EDTA, respectively. Central venous pressure was kept constant by colloid/crystalloid infusion. Compared to placebo, levosimendan increased cardiac index (22%), stroke volume index (15%), and heart rate (7%) and decreased systemic vascular resistance index (21%), whereas mean arterial pressure was not affected. Levosimendan induced significant increases in renal blood flow (12%, p<0.05) and glomerular filtration rate (21%, p<0.05), decreased renal vascular resistance (18%, p<0.05) but caused no significant changes in filtration fraction, renal oxygen consumption, or renal oxygen extraction, compared to placebo.

Conclusions: After cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, levosimendan induces a vasodilation, preferentially of preglomerular resistance vessels, increasing both renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate without jeopardizing renal oxygenation. Due to its pharmacodynamic profile, levosimendan might be an interesting alternative for treatment of postoperative heart failure complicated by acute kidney injury in postcardiac surgery patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Output / drug effects
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass*
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrazones / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects*
  • Pyridazines / pharmacology*
  • Renal Circulation / drug effects*
  • Simendan
  • Sweden
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures*


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Hydrazones
  • Pyridazines
  • Simendan