Catecholamine and cortisol responses to lower extremity revascularization: Correlation with outcome variables

S. D. Parker, M. J. Breslow, S. M. Frank, B. A. Rosenfeld, E. J. Norris, R. Christopherson, P. Rock, S. O. Gottlieb, H. Raff, B. A. Perler, G. M. Williams, C. Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether catecholamine and cortisol secretory responses to surgery contribute to postoperative complications. Design: Prospective, randomized, case series. Setting: A university hospital operating suite and surgical intensive care unit. Patients: Sixty patients undergoing lower extremity vascular surgery. Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive either epidural anesthesia/epidural opiate analgesia (regional anesthesia) or general anesthesia/intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (general anesthesia). Measurements and Main Results: Anesthesia was managed according to a prospectively designed protocol. Hemodynamic parameters and plasma catecholamine concentrations were determined at specific intraoperative and postoperative time points. Intraoperative and postoperative urine samples were collected and analyzed for free cortisol concentrations. Outcomes evaluated were cardiac (nonfatal myocardial infarction and cardiac death) and surgical (graft occlusion). Mean arterial pressure during emergence from anesthesia and in the early postoperative period correlated positively with plasma norepinephrine concentration (p < .01). In addition, plasma catecholamine concentrations were higher in patients with postoperative hypertension. Plasma norepinephrine concentrations at the time of emergence from anesthesia and postoperatively were also higher in patients requiring repeat surgery for graft revision, thrombectomy, or amputation (p < .05). Multivariate analysis indicated that the norepinephrine concentration at the time of emergence, but not type of anesthesia, correlated with reoperation for graft occlusion, suggesting that the previously reported beneficial effect of regional anesthesia may be due to modulation of the stress response. Myocardial infarction or cardiac death occurred in three patients. These patients had markedly increased catecholamine concentrations. Conclusions: The catecholamine response to lower extremity vascular surgery contributes to the development of postoperative hypertension and may also be important in the development of thrombotic complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1961
Number of pages8
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995


  • anesthesia and analgesia
  • autonomic nervous system
  • catecholamines
  • cortisol
  • epinephrine
  • hypertension
  • myocardial infarction
  • norepinephrine
  • stress response
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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