Vasoplegia During Cardiopulmonary Bypass: Current Literature and Rescue Therapy Options

J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2020 Oct;34(10):2766-2775. doi: 10.1053/j.jvca.2019.12.013. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


Vasoplegia syndrome in the cardiac surgical intensive care unit and postoperative period has been an area of interest to clinicians because of its prevalence and effects on morbidity and mortality. However, there is a paucity of evidence regarding the treatment of vasoplegia syndrome during cardiopulmonary bypass (on-CPB VS). This review aims to detail the incidence, outcomes, and possible treatment options for patients who develop vasoplegia during bypass. The pharmacologic rescue agents discussed are used in cases in which vasoplegia during CPB is refractory to standard catecholamine agents, such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and phenylephrine. Methods to improve vasoplegia during CPB can be both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic. In particular, optimization of CPB parameters plays an important nonpharmacologic role in vasoplegia during CPB. Pharmacologic agents that have been demonstrated as being effective in vasoplegia include vasopressin, terlipressin, methylene blue, hydroxocobalamin, angiotensin II (Giapreza), vitamin C, flurbiprofen (Ropion), and hydrocortisone. Although these agents have not been specifically evaluated for vasoplegia during CPB, they have shown signs of effectiveness for vasoplegia postoperatively to varying degrees. Understanding the evidence for, dosing, and side effects of these agents is crucial for cardiac anesthesiologists when treating vasoplegia during CPB bypass.

Keywords: hypotension during bypass; intraoperative vasoplegia; vasoplegia; vasoplegia during bypass; vasoplegia syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Methylene Blue / therapeutic use
  • Norepinephrine
  • Vasoplegia* / diagnosis
  • Vasoplegia* / drug therapy
  • Vasoplegia* / etiology


  • Hydroxocobalamin
  • Methylene Blue
  • Norepinephrine