Randomized, controlled trial of low-dose inhaled nitric-oxide in the treatment of term and near-term infants with respiratory failure and pulmonary hypertension

David N. Cornfield, Roy C. Maynard, Raye Ann O. DeRegnier, Sixto F Guiang III, Joel E. Barbato, Carlos E. Milla

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72 Scopus citations


Recent reports indicate that inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) causes selective pulmonary vasodilation, increases arterial oxygen tension, and may decrease the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in infants with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Despite these reports, the optimal close and timing of iNO administration in PPHN remains unclear. Objectives. To test the hypotheses that in PPHN 1) iNO at 2 parts per million (ppm) is effective at acutely increasing oxygenation as measured by oxygenation index (OI); 2) early use of 2 ppm of iNO is more effective than control (0 ppm) in preventing clinical deterioration and need for iNO at 20 ppm; and 3) for those infants who fail the initial treatment protocol (0 or 2 ppm) iNO at 20 ppm is effective at acutely decreasing OI. Study Design. A randomized, controlled trial of iNO in 3 nurseries in a single metropolitan arena. Thirty-eight children, average gestational-age of 37.3 weeks and average age <1 day were enrolled. Thirty-five of 38 infants had echocardiographic evidence of pulmonary hypertension. On enrollment, median OI in the control group, iNO at 0 ppm, (n = 23) was 33.1, compared with 36.9 in the 2-ppm iNO group (n = 15). Results. Initial treatment with iNO at 2 ppm for an average of 1 hour was not associated with a significant decrease in OI. Twenty of 23 (87%) control patients and 14 of 15 (92%) of the low-dose iNO group demonstrated clinical deterioration and were treated with iNO at 20 ppm. In the control group, treatment with iNO at 20 ppm decreased the median OI from 42.6 to 23.8, whereas in the 2-ppm iNO group with a change in iNO from 2 to 20 ppm, the median OI did not change (42.6 to 42.0). Five of 15 patients in the low-dose nitric oxide group required ECMO and 2 died, compared with 7 of 23 requiring ECMO and 5 deaths in the control group. Conclusion. In infants with PPHN, iNO 1): at 2 ppm does not acutely improve oxygenation or prevent clinical deterioration, but does attenuate the rate of clinical deterioration; and 2) at 20 ppm acutely improves oxygenation in infants initially treated with 0 ppm, but not in infants previously treated with iNO at 2 ppm. Initial treatment with a subtherapeutic dose-of iNO may diminish the clinical response to 20 ppm of iNO and have adverse clinical sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1094
Number of pages6
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - Nov 1999


  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Hypoxemia
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
  • Pulmonary vascular reactivity
  • Respiratory failure


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