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Prospective, randomized trial comparing fluids and dobutamine optimization of oxygen delivery in high-risk surgical patients [ISRCTN42445141]

Suzana M Lobo*, Francisco R Lobo, Carlos A Polachini, Daniela S Patini, Adriana E Yamamoto, Neymar E de Oliveira, Patricia Serrano, Helder S Sanches, Marco A Spegiorin, Marcio M Queiroz, Antonio C Christiano, Elisangela F Savieiro, Paula A Alvarez, Silvia P Teixeira and Geni S Cunrath

Author Affiliations

Division of Critical Care Medicine, Departments of Internal Medicine, Anesthesiology and Surgery, Medical School – FUNFARME and Hospital de Base, São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil

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Critical Care 2006, 10:R72  doi:10.1186/cc4913

Published: 12 May 2006



Preventing perioperative tissue oxygen debt contributes to a better postoperative recovery. Whether the beneficial effects of fluids and inotropes during optimization of the oxygen delivery index (DO2I) in high-risk patients submitted to major surgeries are due to fluids, to inotropes, or to the combination of the two is not known. We aimed to investigate the effect of DO2I optimization with fluids or with fluids and dobutamine on the 60-day hospital mortality and incidence of complications.


A randomized and controlled trial was performed in 50 high-risk patients (elderly with coexistent pathologies) undergoing major elective surgery. Therapy consisted of pulmonary artery catheter-guided hemodynamic optimization during the operation and 24 hours postoperatively using either fluids alone (n = 25) or fluids and dobutamine (n = 25), aiming to achieve supranormal values (DO2I > 600 ml/minute/m2).


The cardiovascular depression was an important component in the perioperative period in this group of patients. Cardiovascular complications in the postoperative period occurred significantly more frequently in the volume group (13/25, 52%) than in the dobutamine group (4/25, 16%) (relative risk, 3.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.22–8.60; P < 0.05). The 60-day mortality rates were 28% in the volume group and 8% in the dobutamine group (relative risk, 3.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.67–13.46; not significant).


In patients with high risk of perioperative death, pulmonary artery catheter-guided hemodynamic optimization using dobutamine determines better outcomes, whereas fluids alone increase the incidence of postoperative complications.