Postoperative hypertension: A multicenter, prospective, randomized comparison between intravenous nicardipine and sodium nitroprusside

N. A. Halpern, M. Goldberg, C. Neely, R. N. Sladen, J. S. Goldberg, J. Floyd, G. Gabrielson, R. J. Greenstein

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114 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the efficacy and safety of iv nicardipine with sodium nitroprusside in the treatment of postoperative hypertension after both cardiac and noncardiac surgery. Design: Multicenter, prospective, randomized, open-label study. Setting: Six tertiary referral medical centers (recovery rooms and surgical ICUs). Patients: A total of 139 patients with postoperative hypertension: iv nicardipine (n = 71), sodium nitroprusside (n = 68). Intervention: Administration of iv nicardipine or sodium nitroprusside. Measurements: Vital signs (BP, heart rate), hemodynamic variables, medication dosage, total number of dose changes, and time to achieve BP control were recorded. Main Results: Both medications were equally effective in reducing BP in both the cardiac and noncardiac surgical groups. Under the conditions of the study, iv nicardipine controlled hypertension more rapidly than sodium nitroprusside (iv nicardipine 14.0 ± 1.0 mins and sodium nitroprusside 30.4 ± 3.5 mins, p = .0029). The total number of dose changes required to achieve therapeutic BP response was significantly less in the iv nicardipine-treated patients (iv nicardipine 1.5 ± 0.2 vs. sodium nitroprusside 5.1 ± 1.4, p < .05). Adverse effects were observed with both drugs (iv nicardipine 7% [5/71] and sodium nitroprusside 18% [12/68] [NS]). Conclusions: Intravenous nicardipine is as effective as sodium nitroprusside in the therapy of postoperative hypertension. Specific advantages have been identified. The use of iv nicardipine should be considered in the therapy of postoperative hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1643
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • blood pressure
  • calcium-channel blocker
  • cardiac emergencies
  • hypertension
  • hypertension, perioperative
  • hypertension, postoperative
  • nicardipine
  • sodium nitroprusside
  • surgery, cardiac
  • vasodilator agents


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