The Effect of Norepinephrine and Dopamine on Radial Forearm Flap Partial Tissue Oxygen Pressure and Microdialysate Metabolite Measurements: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

Patients undergoing ablative and reconstructive head and neck surgery with a microvascular flap have multiple factors that potentially decrease postoperative mean arterial pressure, which may endanger flap survival. The safety of vasopressor use has long been a topic of discussion. The authors analyzed the effect of vasopressors on microvascular flap perfusion after head and neck cancer reconstruction.

Methods:

A total of 27 patients were enrolled in a randomized, controlled, clinical trial. A microvascular radial forearm flap was used for reconstruction. Patients were allocated into one of three groups: dopamine, norepinephrine, and control. The intervention groups received the vasoactive drug, aiming to maintain the mean arterial pressure between 80 and 90 mmHg. Normovolemia was maintained according to central venous pressure. Flap perfusion was monitored with continuous tissue partial pressure of oxygen and microdialysate metabolite (lactate-to-pyruvate ratio) measurements.

Results:

No adverse effects were observed, and postoperative recovery was free of complications in all groups. Neither the lactate-to-pyruvate ratio nor continuous tissue partial pressure of oxygen values differed significantly between groups during the first 24 hours of the vasoactive drug infusion period or during the 72-hour follow-up.

Conclusions:

Norepinephrine and dopamine are safe and effective vasopressors for use during the postoperative period following head and neck cancer surgery with microvascular reconstruction. Dopamine should be used with caution, however, because of the risk of side effects.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, II.

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