The role of inhaled nitric oxide in the immediate post-bypass period after surgical repair of congenital heart disease is uncertain. In a controlled, randomized, double-blind study, we tested the hypothesis that inhaled nitric oxide (NO) would reduce pulmonary hypertension immediately after surgical repair of congenital heart disease in 40 patients with preoperative evidence of pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary arterial pressure [MPAP] exceeding 50% of mean systemic arterial pressure [MSAP]). Patients were then followed in the intensive care unit (ICU) to document the incidence of severe pulmonary hypertension. Of the patients, 36% (n = 13) emerged from bypass with MPAP > 50% MSAP. In these patients, inhaled NO reduced MPAP by 19% (P = 0.008) versus an increase of 9% in the placebo group. No effect on MPAP was observed in patients emerging from bypass without pulmonary hypertension (n = 23). Inhaled NO was required five times in the ICU, always in the patients who had emerged from cardiopulmonary bypass with pulmonary hypertension (5 of 13 [38%] versus 0 of 23). We conclude that, in infants and children undergoing congenital heart surgery, inhaled NO selectively reduces MPAP in patients who emerge from cardiopulmonary bypass with pulmonary hypertension and has no effect on those who emerge without it.
Implications: In a randomized double-blind study, inhaled nitric oxide selectively reduced pulmonary artery pressures in pediatric patients who developed pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) immediately after cardiopulmonary bypass and surgical repair.