Effect of Cardiopulmonary Bypass with Heparin Administration on Digitoxin Pharmacokinetics, Serum Electrolytes, Free Fatty Acids, and Renal Function

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SummaryIn 14 patients investigated before, during, and after extracorporeal circulation, serum digitoxin concentration fell significantly during bypass but returned to preoperative values within 24 hr. Both changes occurred in parallel with changes in hematocrit. Serum magnesium concentration fell markedly just before and during bypass and returned to preoperative values on the third and fourth postoperative days. Urine digitoxin concentration fell on the day of operation and remained low in the postoperative period, with a concomitant reduction in the renal excretion of digitoxin. Creatinine and digitoxin clearances decreased on the day of operation and returned slowly to control values during the postoperative period. In 5 other patients, serum digitoxin protein binding decreased significantly during bypass due to heparinization and was normalized by administration of protamine sulfate. Free fatty acids increased significantly immediately before bypass and returned to normal toward its end. The marked changes in digitoxin serum levels during cardiopulmonary bypass can be explained by hemodilution. Acute deterioration of renal function does not lead to accumulation of digitoxin. Heparin administration causes major changes in free fatty acids and serum digitoxin protein binding without important changes in the free digitoxin concentration. Digitoxin can thus be safely administered to patients undergoing cardiac surgery with extracorporeal circulation.

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