Background. Use of intravenous furosemide is generally avoided in critically ill neonates and infants soon after open heart operations to prevent fluctuations in intravascular volume and resulting circulatory instability.Methods. To assess and compare the safety and efficacy of continuous versus intermittent intravenous furosemide, we undertook a prospective, randomized trial in 26 consecutive patients less than 6 months of age. Inclusion criteria were presence of low-output syndrome requiring inotropic support (24/26 patients) or pulmonary hypertension requiring vasodilator therapy (10/26 patients) within 6 hours of discontinuation of cardiopulmonary bypass. Eleven patients received 0.1 mg . kg -1 . h -1 continuous intravenous furosemide (group 1) and 15 received 1 mg/kg bolus every 4 hours (group 2) for 24 hours. Mean age (3.7 +/- 3.4 versus 1.8 +/- 2.5 months) and weight (4.6 +/- 2.1 versus 4.3 +/- 1.7 kg) were comparable.Results. Group 2 infants showed slightly greater absolute urinary output (2.5 +/- 1.1 mL/kg per hour versus 3.3 +/- 1.1 mL/kg per hour, p = 0.05). However, urinary output per dose of drug was significantly larger in group 1 infants (1.0 +/- 0.4 versus 0.5 +/- 0.2 mL . kg -1 . h -1 ; p = 0.002) with lesser fluctuations (variance, 1.9 +/- 1.6 versus 3.8 +/- 2.1; p = 0.02) and fluid replacement needs (20.6 +/- 3.8 versus 51.8 +/- 14.4; p = 0.001). Electrolyte replacement requirements were similar. A trend toward greater hemodynamic instability in group 2 patients (heart rate variance 88.4 +/- 79.8 versus 128.3 +/- 82.7; p = 0.09; central venous pressure variance 2.8 +/- 1.90 versus 4.1 +/- 3.7; p = 0.07; mixed venous oxygen saturation variance, 32.3 +/- 27.6 versus 45.7 +/- 20.4; p = 0.06) was noted. All patients who completed the study protocol survived operation and were discharged home.Conclusions. We conclude that (1) commonly used doses of both intermittent and continuous intravenous furosemide infusion can be safely administered to critically ill neonates and infants as early as 6 hours after operation, (2) continuous infusion yields an almost comparable urinary output with a much lower dose of furosemide, and (3) intermittent administration is associated with greater fluctuations in urinary output and greater needs for fluid replacement therapy.
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