Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) has been used to treat pulmonary hypertension.Experimental studies have suggested therapeutic effects of NO after pulmonary microembolism. We evaluated the protective effects of NO in dogs during a pulmonary air embolism (PAE). NO (3 ppm) was administered to six anesthetized mongrel dogs (NO group) but not to the seven dogs in the control group. After 20 min, each dog received a venous air injection of 2.5 mL/kg. Hemodynamic evaluation was performed, and blood samples were drawn for blood gas analysis before and after NO inhalation and 5-60 min after the PAE. Both arterial blood pressure and cardiac output were decreased in the control group for >15 min after PAE, whereas NO-treated animals showed only transient hypotension. NO attenuated the pulmonary hypertension after PAE, as demonstrated by small (P < 0.05) increases in pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance index in NO-treated animals (90% and 135%, respectively) compared with the controls (196% and 282%, respectively). These hemodynamic effects of NO were associated with higher mixed venous O2 tensions and saturations in the NO group compared with the controls. We conclude that small-dose NO (3 ppm) attenuated the hemodynamic changes induced by PAE in dogs. This protective effect of NO on hemodynamics is not accompanied by improvement in pulmonary oxygenation in this setting. Implications: In this study, we evaluated the protective effects of inhaled nitric oxide in a pulmonary air embolism setting. Nitric oxide attenuated the hemodynamic changes induced by pulmonary air embolism without improving pulmonary oxygenation.
(Anesth Analg 1999;88:1025-9)