Novel inhaled pulmonary vasodilators in adult cardiac surgery: a scoping review

Navindra David, Sameer Lakha, Samantha Walsh, Eric Fried, Samuel DeMaria

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a common cause of postoperative mortality in cardiac surgery that is commonly treated with conventional inhaled therapies, specifically nitric oxide and prostacyclin. Alternative therapies include inhaled milrinone and levosimendan, which are receiving more research interest and are increasing in clinical use as they may cut costs while allowing for easier administration. We sought to conduct a scoping review to appraise the evidence base for the use of these two novel inhaled vasodilators as an intervention for PH in cardiac surgery. Source: We searched Embase and MEDLINE for relevant articles from 1947 to 2022. Principal findings: We identified 17 studies including 969 patients. The included studies show that inhaled milrinone and levosimendan are selective pulmonary vasodilators with potential benefits ranging from ease of weaning from cardiopulmonary bypass to reduction in ventricular dysfunction. Nevertheless, high-quality data are limited, and study design and comparators are extremely heterogeneous, limiting the potential validity and generalizability of findings. Conclusion: The findings of this scoping review suggest that milrinone and levosimendan may be effective alternatives to current inhaled therapies for cardiac dysfunction in the setting of PH. Nevertheless, randomized trials have focused on specific agents and consistent outcome measures are needed to better validate the early-stage promise of these agents. Study registration: Open Science Framework (; first posted 21 July 2022.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Anesthesia
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • cardiac surgery
  • inhaled pulmonary vasodilators
  • levosimendan
  • milrinone
  • pulmonary hypertension


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