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Early goal-directed therapy is a time-sensitive therapeutic algorithm with a tiered approach to target hypoperfusion and cardiovascular collapse within the first 6 hours of septic shock. The Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines recommend norepinephrine or dopamine as the initial vasoactive agent for resuscitation in septic shock, reserving the administration of vasopressin as adjunctive therapy. To determine whether vasopressin was noninferior to norepinephrine as the initial vasopressor to achieve a mean arterial pressure (MAP) goal in the first 6 hours of shock onset. This retrospective cohort study evaluated adults who received monotherapy with either norepinephrine or vasopressin as initial vasoactive therapy for the management of septic shock. Patients were excluded if the treatment arm was not monotherapy, if they were admitted to a cardiology or cardiothoracic surgery service, or if they lacked a comparator-based 1:1 frequency matching. A total of 130 patients were included, 65 in each treatment arm. The proportion of patients who achieved a goal MAP in the vasopressin group was 63% (95% CI 51%-75%) and was 67.7% (95% CI 56%-79%) in the norepinephrine group. This observed difference between goal MAP attainment did not exceed the predefined noninferiority margin of -25% (CI for 4.7% difference -21.2% to 12%), suggesting noninferiority of vasopressin. No significant difference was identified between vasopressin and norepinephrine for final mean (SD) MAP achieved (75 [9.6] and 76.0 [8.2] mm Hg, respectively; p = 0.06) or the mean total change from baseline MAP to goal (14.1 [8.4] and 15.1 [9.1] mm Hg, respectively; p = 0.6). Vasopressin was noninferior to norepinephrine for the achievement of a MAP goal in the first 6 hours from onset of septic shock. Further prospective analysis is warranted; however, the results are useful for consideration of alternative vasopressors in the setting of drug shortages.


Mitchell J Daley, Ishaq Lat, Katherine D Mieure, Heath R Jennings, Jesse B Hall, John P Kress. A comparison of initial monotherapy with norepinephrine versus vasopressin for resuscitation in septic shock. The Annals of pharmacotherapy. 2013 Mar;47(3):301-10

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PMID: 23447481

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