Norepinephrine or dopamine for the treatment of hyperdynamic septic shock?

Chest. 1993 Jun;103(6):1826-31. doi: 10.1378/chest.103.6.1826.


Study objective: To compare the ability of dopamine and norepinephrine to reverse hemodynamic and metabolic abnormalities of human hyperdynamic septic shock.

Design: Prospective, double-blind, randomized trial.

Setting: An ICU in a university hospital.

Patients: Adult patients with hyperdynamic septic shock after fluid resuscitation.

Interventions: Patients were assigned to receive either dopamine (2.5 to 25 micrograms/kg/min) or norepinephrine (0.5 to 5.0 micrograms/kg/min). If hemodynamic and metabolic abnormalities were not corrected with the maximum dose of one drug, the other was added.

Measurements and results: The aim of therapy was to achieve and maintain for at least 6 h all of the following: (1) systemic vascular resistance index > 1,100 dynes.s/cm5.m2 and/or mean systemic blood pressure > or = 80 mm Hg; (2) cardiac index > or = 4.0 L/min/m2; (3) oxygen delivery > 550 ml/min/m2; and (4) oxygen uptake > 150 ml/min/m2. With the use of dopamine 10 to 25 micrograms/kg/min, 5 of 16 patients (31 percent) were successfully treated, as compared with 15 of 16 patients (93 percent) by norepinephrine at a dose of 1.5 +/- 1.2 micrograms/kg/min (p < 0.001). Ten of 11 patients who did not respond to dopamine and remained hypotensive and oliguric were successfully treated with the addition of norepinephrine.

Conclusions: At the doses tested, norepinephrine was found, in the present study, to be more effective and reliable than dopamine to reverse the abnormalities of hyperdynamic septic shock. In the great majority of the study patients, norepinephrine was able to increase mean perfusing pressure without apparent adverse effect on peripheral blood flow or on renal blood flow (since urine flow was reestablished). At the same time, oxygen uptake was increased.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dopamine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shock, Septic / drug therapy*
  • Shock, Septic / metabolism
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology


  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine