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Vasopressor Use during Emergency Trauma Surgery

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Most evidence suggests early vasopressor use is associated with death after trauma, but no previous study has focused on patients requiring emergency operative intervention (OR). We test the hypothesis that vasopressors are harmful in this population. Records from 746 patients requiring OR from July 2009 to March 2013 were retrospectively reviewed and stratified based on vasopressor use (epinephrine [EPI], phenylephrine, ephedrine, norepinephrine, dobutamine, vasopressin) or no vasopressor use. Vasopressors were administered to 225 patients (30%) during OR; 59 patients (8%) received multiple vasopressors. Patients who received vasopressors were older, more severely injured, had worse vital signs, and increased mortality rate (all P < 0.001). EPI was independently associated with mortality (odds ratio, 6.88; P = 0.001). If patients who received EPI were excluded, there was no difference in mortality between those who received vasopressors alone or in combination and those that did not (5 vs 6%, P = 0.523), although multiple markers of injury severity were worse. We conclude that vasopressor use is relatively common in the most severely injured patients requiring OR and is associated with mortality. EPI is most often used for cardiac arrest, whereas other vasopressors are used for their vasoconstrictive properties. This suggests that, except for EPI, vasopressors during OR are not independently associated with mortality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dewitt-Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Ryder Trauma Center, Miami, Florida, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2014

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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