An International Survey of Corticosteroid Use for the Management of Low Cardiac Output Syndrome*

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Limited evidence exists on use of corticosteroids in low cardiac output syndrome following cardiac surgery. We sought to determine physicians’ practices and beliefs with regard to corticosteroids therapy for low cardiac output syndrome.


Multinational internet-based survey.


Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society member database.


Pediatric cardiac intensive care physicians.



Measurements and Main Results:

We received 188 responses from 85 centers throughout the world including 57 U.S. congenital heart centers, eight Canadian centers, and 20 international centers. The majority of respondents (51%) reported performing at least 200 bypass cases per year and had separate dedicated cardiac ICUs (57%). Most physicians (89%) rarely or never prescribe corticosteroids for mild low cardiac output syndrome (single vasoactive agent and mildly decreased perfusion), whereas 94% of those surveyed sometimes or always administer corticosteroids to patients with severe low cardiac output syndrome (two or more vasoactive agents and persistent hypotension). Hydrocortisone was the most commonly used corticosteroids (88%), but there was no consensus on dosage used. There was a variable approach to cortisol level measurement and cortisol stimulation testing to inform therapy with corticosteroids. A majority of respondents (75%) stated that they would be willing to randomize patients with severe low cardiac output syndrome into a trial of corticosteroids efficacy.


Our survey demonstrates considerable practice variability with regard to the type of patients in whom corticosteroids are administered, adrenal axis testing is performed, and dosage of hydrocortisone used. The majority of physicians, however, stated their willingness to randomize patients with severe low cardiac output syndrome in a corticosteroids trial. This survey identified multiple areas for future research on use of corticosteroids for low cardiac output syndrome.

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