Improved Myocardial Performance in Postoperative Cardiac Surgical Patients with Sodium Nitroprusside

Thomas J. Bixler, Timothy J. Gardner, James S. Donahoo, Robert K. Brawley, Alan Potter, Vincent L. Gott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Myocardial performance in the immediate postoperative period was studied in 49 cardiac surgical patients treated with nitroprusside alone. With a thermodilution catheter positioned in the pulmonary artery, cardiac output was calculated and cardiac index, systemic vascular resistance index, and stroke work index were derived before and after treatment with nitroprusside. The drug was administered to all patients because of elevated systemic vascular resistance index. Based on their mean arterial pressure and cardiac index before treatment, the patients fell into two groups. Group I patients (N = 25) had elevated mean arterial pressure and normal cardiac index. Group II patients (N = 24) had normal mean arterial pressure and subnormal cardiac index. Nitroprusside administration resulted in a significant reduction of systemic vascular resistance index in all patients. In Group I the mean arterial pressure was lowered significantly while cardiac index increased only slightly. In Group II there was no change in arterial pressure, but cardiac index improved significantly. These results not only confirm that nitroprusside is effective in managing postoperative hypertension, but also demonstrate that in patients with postoperative left ventricular failure, the drug can improve cardiac output by reducing systemic vascular resistance without significantly lowering arterial blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-448
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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