A Bayesian network meta-analysis on the effect of inodilatory agents on mortality

Br J Anaesth. 2015 May;114(5):746-56. doi: 10.1093/bja/aeu446. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Background: Inodilators are commonly used in critically ill patients, but their effect on survival has not been properly studied to date. The objective of this work was to conduct a network meta-analysis on the effects of inodilators on survival in adult cardiac surgery patients, and to compare and rank drugs that have not been adequately compared in head-to-head trials.

Methods: Relevant studies were independently searched in BioMedCentral, MEDLINE/PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of clinical trials (updated on May 1, 2014). The criteria for inclusion were: random allocation to treatment with at least one group receiving dobutamine, enoximone, levosimendan, or milrinone and at least another group receiving the above inodilators or placebo, performed in cardiac surgical patients. The endpoint was to identify differences in mortality at longest follow-up available.

Results: The 46 included trials were published between 1995 and 2014 and randomised 2647 patients. The Bayesian network meta-analysis found that only the use of levosimendan was associated with a decrease in mortality when compared with placebo (posterior mean of OR=0.48, 95% CrI 0.28 to 0.80). The posterior distribution of the probability for each inodilator to be the best and the worst drug showed that levosimendan is the best agent to improve survival after cardiac surgery. The sensitivity analyses performed did not produce different interpretative result.

Conclusion: Levosimendan seems to be the most efficacious inodilator to improve survival in cardiac surgery.

Keywords: anaesthesia - meta-analysis; anaesthetics i.v.; cardiovascular anaesthesia; surgery – cardiovascular.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / mortality*
  • Critical Illness / mortality
  • Dobutamine / pharmacology
  • Enoximone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydrazones / pharmacology
  • Milrinone / pharmacology
  • Pyridazines / pharmacology
  • Simendan
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology*


  • Hydrazones
  • Pyridazines
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Simendan
  • Dobutamine
  • Enoximone
  • Milrinone