Effects of sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine on blood flow in free musculocutaneous flaps during general anesthesia

Andrej Banic, Vladimir Krejci, Dominique Erni, Anthony M. Wheatley, Gisli H. Sigurdsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Hypoperfusion and necrosis in free flaps used to correct tissue defects remain important clinical problems. The authors studied the effects of two vasoactive drugs, sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine, which are used frequently in anesthetic practice, on total blood flow and microcirculatory flow in free musculocutaneous flaps during general anesthesia. Methods: In a porcine model (n = 9) in which clinical conditions for anesthesia and microvascular surgery were simulated, latissimus dorsi free flaps were transferred to the lower extremity. Total blood flow in the flaps was measured using ultrasound flowmetry and microcirculatory flow was measured using laser Doppler flowmetry. The effects of sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine were studied during local infusion through the feeding artery of the flap and during systemic administration. Results: Systemic sodium nitroprusside caused a 30% decrease in mean arterial pressure, but cardiac output did not change. The total flow in the flap decreased by 40% (P < 0.01), and microcirculatory flow decreased by 23% in the skin (P < 0.01) and by 30% in the muscle (P < 0.01) of the flap. Sodium nitroprusside infused locally into the flap artery increased the total flap flow by 20% (P < 0.01). Systemic phenylephrine caused a 30% increase in mean arterial pressure, whereas heart rate, cardiac output, and flap blood flow did not change. Local phenylephrine caused a 30% decrease (P < 0.01) in the total flap flow. Conclusions: Systemic phenylephrine in a dose increasing the systemic vascular resistance and arterial pressure by 30% appears to have no adverse effects on blood flow in free musculocutancous flaps. Sodium nitroprusside, however, in a dose causing a 30% decrease in systemic vascular resistance and arterial pressure, causes a severe reduction in free flap blood flow despite maintaining cardiac output.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalAnesthesiology
Volume90
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999

Other keywords

  • Microcirculation
  • Vasoconstrictor
  • Vasodilator

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