Anesthesia and analgesia vol:98 issue:2 pages:461-8
For many years, dopamine was considered an essential drug in the intensive care unit (ICU) for its cardiovascular effects and, even more, for its supposedly protective effects on renal function and splanchnic mucosal perfusion. There is now ample scientific evidence that low dose dopamine is ineffective for prevention and treatment of acute renal failure and for protection of the gut. Until recently, low-dose dopamine was considered to be relatively free of side effects. However, it is now clear that low-dose dopamine, besides not achieving the preset goal of organ protection, may also be deleterious because it can induce renal failure in normo- and hypovolemic patients. Furthermore, dopamine may cause harm by impairing mucosal blood flow and by aggravating reduced gastric motility. Dopamine also suppresses the secretion and function of anterior pituitary hormones, thereby aggravating catabolism and cellular immune dysfunction and inducing central hypothyroidism. In addition, dopamine blunts the ventilatory drive, increasing the risk of respiratory failure in patients who are being weaned from mechanical ventilation. We conclude that there is no longer a place for low-dose dopamine in the ICU and that, in view of its side effects, its extended use as a vasopressor may also be questioned.