Phenylephrine increases cardiac output by raising cardiac preload in patients with anesthesia induced hypotension

A F Kalmar, S Allaert, P Pletinckx, J-W Maes, J Heerman, J J Vos, M M R F Struys, T W L Scheeren

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Induction of general anesthesia frequently induces arterial hypotension, which is often treated with a vasopressor, such as phenylephrine. As a pure -agonist, phenylephrine is conventionally considered to solely induce arterial vasoconstriction and thus increase cardiac afterload but not cardiac preload. In specific circumstances, however, phenylephrine may also contribute to an increase in venous return and thus cardiac output (CO). The aim of this study is to describe the initial time course of the effects of phenylephrine on various hemodynamic variables and to evaluate the ability of advanced hemodynamic monitoring to quantify these changes through different hemodynamic variables. In 24 patients, after induction of anesthesia, during the period before surgical stimulus, phenylephrine 2 mu gkg(-1) was administered when the MAP dropped below 80% of the awake state baseline value for >3min. The mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), end-tidal CO2 (EtCO2), central venous pressure (CVP), stroke volume (SV), CO, pulse pressure variation (PPV), stroke volume variation (SVV) and systemic vascular resistance (SVR) were recorded continuously. The values at the moment before administration of phenylephrine and 5(T-5) and 10(T-10)min thereafter were compared. After phenylephrine, the mean(SD) MAP, SV, CO, CVP and EtCO2 increased by 34(13)mmHg, 11(9)mL, 1.02(0.74)Lmin(-1), 3(2.6)mmHg and 4.0(1.6)mmHg at T-5 respectively, while both dynamic preload variables decreased: PPV dropped from 20% at baseline to 9% at T-5 and to 13% at T-10 and SVV from 19 to 11 and 14%, respectively. Initially, the increase in MAP was perfectly aligned with the increase in SVR, until 150s after the initial increase in MAP, when both curves started to dissociate. The dissociation of the evolution of MAP and SVR, together with the changes in PPV, CVP, EtCO2 and CO indicate that in patients with anesthesia-induced hypotension, phenylephrine increases the CO by virtue of an increase in cardiac preload.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-976
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of clinical monitoring and computing
Issue number6
Early online date22-Mar-2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018


  • Hemodynamic monitoring
  • Fluid responsiveness
  • Phenylephrine
  • Cardiac output
  • Pulse pressure variation

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