Study objective: To evaluate the percentage of nitric oxide (NO) responders in septic shock patients with ARDS. Additionally, to investigate long-term NO effects on cardiac performance and oxygen kinetic patterns in NO responders vs nonresponders.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: ICU of a university hospital.
Patients: Twenty-five consecutive patients with a diagnosis of septic shock and established ARDS requiring inotropic and vasopressor support.
Interventions: After diagnosis of ARDS, NO was administered at 18 or 36 ppm. Patients demonstrating a NO-induced rise of arterial oxygen tension of 20% or more and/or a fall in mean pulmonary artery pressure of 15% or more were grouped as NO responders; others were grouped as nonresponders.
Measurements and results: Ten patients (40%) were NO responders, while 15 patients (60%) were nonresponders. Mortality was 40% in NO responders and 67% in nonresponders (NS). NO responders developed a significantly lower mean pulmonary artery pressure (28 +/- 6 vs 33 +/- 6 mm Hg; p < 0.05), lower pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR: 258 +/- 73 vs 377 +/- 163 dyne.s.cm-5.m-2; p < 0.05), and higher PaO2/FIO2 ratio (192 +/- 85 vs 144 +/- 74 mm Hg; p < 0.05) within the study period. In responders, NO-induced afterload reduction resulted in increased right ventricular ejection fraction (RVEF: 40 +/- 7 vs 35 +/- 9%; p < 0.05), significantly higher cardiac index (CI: 4.5 +/- 1.1 vs 4.0 +/- 1.2 L.min-1.m-2; p < 0.05) and oxygen delivery (DO2: 681 +/- 141 vs 599 +/- 160 mL.min-1.m-2; p < 0.05) compared with nonresponders. In NO nonresponders, RVEF was correlated with PVR, CI, DO2, mixed venous oxygen saturation (SvO2), and oxygen extraction ratio (O2ER) (r = +/- 0.60 to +/- 0.69; p < 0.05). No significant correlation between RVEF and any of these parameters was observed in responders. SvO2 (75 +/- 7 vs 69 +/- 8%; p < 0.05) and O2ER (0.24 +/- 0.06 vs 0.27 +/- 0.06; p < 0.05) were significantly different between responders and nonresponders, while no difference in oxygen consumption was observed (161 +/- 41 vs 153 +/- 43 mL.min.m-2).
Conclusions: Inhaled NO is effective in only a subgroup of septic ARDS patients, with a higher, but insignificantly different percentage of survivors in the responder group. NO responders were characterized by increased RVEF accompanied by higher CI, DO2, and lower O2ER. In nonresponders, RVEF remained depressed, with a close correlation between RVEF and CO as well as DO2 and O2ER. Thus, nonresponders seem to suffer from impaired cardiac reserves and correspondingly lower oxygen transport variables.