Objective. Systemic oxygenation is improved by inhaled nitric oxide therapy in some newborns with respiratory failure and pulmonary hypertension. Our results with inhaled nitric oxide were reviewed to determine factors associated with an acute improvement in systemic oxygenation.
Methods. Newborns with oxygenation indices of 25 to 40 were prospectively randomized to receive conventional therapy with or without 20 ppm inhaled nitric oxide. All newborns with oxygenation indices greater than 40 were treated with inhaled nitric oxide. Hemodynamic, blood gas, and Doppler ultrasound measurements were performed before and after 30 to 60 minutes of observation or therapy. The severity of lung disease was classified by the chest radiograph as: (1) normal or focal disease; (2) moderate diffuse disease—diffuse lung disease with well-defined heart borders; or (3) severe diffuse disease—diffuse lung opacification with indistinct heart borders.
Results. Heart rate, blood pressure, and ductal diameters did not change. Blood gases and ductal shunting acutely improved only in patients treated with inhaled nitric oxide. Patients with normal lung fields or focal disease had the greatest degree of improvement in systemic oxygenation. Changes in oxygenation were not influenced by gestational age, baseline blood gases, the proportion of right-to-left ductal shunting, prior treatment with a surfactant, or the use of conventional or high-frequency jet ventilation. Collectively, blood gases and ductal shunting did not improve with inhaled nitric oxide in patients with lung hypoplasia or severe diffuse lung disease. Sustained improvement in oxygenation occurred in 87% of patients with oxygenation indices greater than 40 in whom oxygenation indices less than 40 acutely developed after exposure to nitric oxide, whereas 90% of patients in whom oxygenation indices less than 40 did not acutely develop were treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ultimately died.
Conclusions. Inhaled nitric oxide acutely improves systemic oxygenation in many newborns with respiratory failure and pulmonary hypertension. The diagnosis and chest radiograph are helpful in identifying patients who will have favorable acute responses to therapy. In patients with severe hypoxemia, the need for invasive support with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation may be determined by an acute trial of inhaled nitric oxide.
- Received September 27, 1995.
- Accepted December 8, 1995.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics