Pharmacokinetics of intraluminally administered serum papaverine for spasm prophylaxis of the internal mammary artery

Heart Surg Forum. 2013 Oct;16(5):E266-70. doi: 10.1532/HSF98.2013201.


Background: Papaverine (Paveron N™ Linden Arzneimittel Vertrieb GmbH, Germany) is a widely used agent for preventing spasm in mammary artery preparations. The question addressed in this study is whether the intraluminal administration of papaverine can result in detectable absorption of the drug into the systemic arterial circulation.

Methods: In 15 patients (age 65 ± 6 years; body mass index 28.9 ± 3.7), an internal mammary artery (IMA) was prepared during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). A maximum of 3 mL of a 1 mg/1 mL diluted papaverine solution was injected intravascularly (intraluminally) for spasm prophylaxis. The IMA was closed proximally and distally with bulldog clamps. Blood samples were taken immediately after administration (T1), after 20 minutes (T2), and at the end of the operation (T3). Samples were measured in a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) system consisting of a binary pump from Agilent (Waldbronn, Germany) coupled to a high-throughput screening (HTS) PAL injection system (CTC, Zwingen, Switzerland) and a tandem mass spectrometer (API 4000, AB Sciex, Darmstadt, Germany). Papaverine was analyzed in positive mode using an electrospray ion source. Quantitation was performed using Analyst 1.5 software (AB Sciex, Darmstadt, Germany).

Results: The newly developed LC-MS/MS method was successfully established for the detection of papaverine in plasma samples. The highest plasma papaverine levels were determined at time point T1 (mean 54.7 ± 39 ng/mL, range 16.6-179 ng/mL). The concentration was already halved 20 minutes after administration (T2) (mean 23.3 ± 2 ng/mL, range 4.6-118 ng/mL). Because of the short half-life and the hemodilution in the extracorporeal circulation, at the end of the operation papaverine (T3) had already fallen to just above the limit of detection (mean 4.1 ± 3.9 ng/mL, range 1.3-16.9 ng/mL). At time point T1, a significant negative correlation was determined between plasma levels and systemic diastolic, but not systolic, blood pressure.

Conclusion: Papaverine was successfully determined systemically in plasma by LC-MS/MS after intraluminal administration in the IMA. Systemic circulatory effects are dependent on the detected quantity. Group size and the absence of a control group are considerable limitations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coronary Vasospasm / blood*
  • Coronary Vasospasm / etiology
  • Coronary Vasospasm / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Mammary-Coronary Artery Anastomosis / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Mammary Arteries / drug effects*
  • Mammary Arteries / transplantation*
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Papaverine / administration & dosage*
  • Papaverine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacokinetics


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Papaverine