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Journal of Intensive Care Medicine

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Pulmonary hypertension frequently complicates the postoperative management of patients after congenital cardiac surgery. Inhaled nitric oxide is an effective treatment option, but rebound pulmonary hypertension can occur upon its withdrawal. Sildenafil may facilitate its withdrawal by restoring cyclic guanosine monophosphate availability via phosphodiesterase-5 inhibition. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of sildenafil in facilitating weaning from inhaled nitric oxide after congenital cardiac surgery in patients who had previously failed weaning, and to compare the effects of sildenafil on pulmonary and systemic hemodynamics. Children who received sildenafil after cardiovascular surgery during a 23-month period at Riley Hospital for Children were identified. Medical records were retrospectively reviewed to determine sildenafil and nitric oxide dosing, pulmonary and systemic blood pressures, and adverse effects. Oral sildenafil was administered to 7 children who had failed attempts at inhaled nitric oxide weaning. Inhaled nitric oxide was weaned from 29.8 ± 5.9 ppm prior to sildenafil initiation to 12.2 ± 3.4 ppm (mean ± SE; P = .024) in the 24 hours after sildenafil. Mean pulmonary artery and systemic arterial pressure were unchanged from baseline when measured 1 hour after sildenafil dosing (mean pulmonary artery pressure, 29 ± 1 to 27 ± 0.7 mm Hg, P = .066; mean systemic arterial pressure, 56 ± 1.2 to 54 ± 1.2 mm Hg, P = .202). Sildenafil may facilitate withdrawal of inhaled nitric oxide and prevent rebound pulmonary hypertension in patients previously failing inhaled nitric oxide weaning attempts.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Journal of Intensive Care Medicine,2008, Volume 23, Issue 5. The version of record is available at SAGE.