Operations on the thoracic aorta and hypothermic circulatory arrest: Is aprotinin safe?

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Introduction: The safety of aprotinin, especially when used with profound hypothermic circulatory arrest, is still a matter of intense debate despite its presumed salutary effects on blood loss. Many investigators have reported toxic renal effects of high-dose aprotinin in such patients, but no prospective, randomized study has been conducted. To assess the potential detrimental effect of aprotinin on renal function and its putative reduction of blood loss, 50 patients undergoing thoracic aortic operations with the use of profound hypothermic circulatory arrest were randomly assigned to receive either low-dose aprotinin (1 x 106 kallikrein activation units) or placebo. Methods: The specific renal tubular markers β-2-microglobulin and β-N- acetyl-D-glucosaminidase, as well as serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen, creatinine clearance, sodium excretion, and potassium excretion, were measured to evaluate renal function preoperatively, immediately after the procedure, and 24 hours and 48 hours later. Results: No statistically significant difference was found in any measured renal parameter between the two groups (analysis of variance). Renal dysfunction, defined as an elevation of serum creatinine early postoperatively (≤1.5 times the preoperative value), occurred in two patients who received aprotinin and in one patient in the control group. Temporary dialysis (hemodialysis or continuous venovenous hemofiltration) was needed in two patients in the aprotinin group versus one in the control group. Furthermore, patients treated with aprotinin had significantly less total postoperative blood loss (718 ± 340 ml vs 920 ± 387 ml, p = 0.04). The aprotinin recipients also had a significantly lower transfusion requirement (p <0.05). Conclusion: This controlled trial of low- dose aprotinin in patients undergoing thoracic aortic operations using profound hypothermic circulatory arrest demonstrated no detectable deleterious effects on renal function; moreover, the use of aprotinin was associated with significantly lower need for transfusion.




Ehrlich, M., Grabenwoger, M., Cartes-Zumelzu, F., Luckner, D., Kovarik, J., Laufer, G., … Havel, M. (1998). Operations on the thoracic aorta and hypothermic circulatory arrest: Is aprotinin safe? Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 115(1), 220–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5223(98)70460-X

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