Drs. Reynolds & Spiess Case Series Published

Published: December 6th, 2017

Category: Feature

A case series by Penny Reynolds, PhD, and Bruce Spiess, MD, along with colleagues from Virginia Commonwealth University, was published in Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society.

The case series is entitled “Hydroxocobalamin for the treatment of cardiac surgery-associated vasoplegia: a case series”. Read the abstract below or click here to read the full article.

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Vasoplegia is a clinical syndrome marked by severe arteriolar vasodilatation, hypotension, and low systemic vascular resistance refractory to multiple vasopressor treatment. We report our experience with hydroxocobalamin (B12) infusion as a potential rescue adjunct for refractory vasoplegia during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB).



We performed a retrospective chart review of 33 patients undergoing cardiac surgery between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2015, who were given intravenous B12 for refractory hypotension during, or immediately following, CPB. We assessed mean arterial pressure (MAP) responses using semi-parametric group-based models (trajectory analysis). Vasopressor use was evaluated by norepinephrine-equivalent rates calculated five minutes prior, and up to 60 min following, B12 administration.



Patients were mostly male (82%), had a mean (SD) age of 53 (13) yr, and median (IQR) EuroSCORE mortality index of 9 [4-40]. Four patterns of MAP responses to B12 were identified. In Group 1 (“poor responders”) nine of 33 patients (27%) had the highest median [IQR] mortality risk (EuroSCORE 40 [4-52]), lowest mean pre-B12 MAP (50 mmHg), and minimal hemodynamic response in spite of continued vasopressor support. In contrast, Group 2 “responders” (8/33, 24%) showed a brisk MAP response (> 15 mmHg) to B12, sustained for > 60 min post-infusion, with 50% vasopressor reduction. Groups 3 and 4 had the lowest median mortality risk (EuroSCORE 8) and highest pre-B12 MAP (72 mmHg). Although Group 3 patients (“sustainers”; 9/33, 27%) showed a sustained MAP improvement, those in Group 4 (“rebounders”; 7/33, 21%) were characterized by hypertensive overshoot followed by a decrease in MAP.



These data indicate considerable heterogeneity in patient response to B12, potentially dependent on both patient preoperative condition and non-standardized time of administration. B12 may provide a useful alternative therapy for refractory hypotension and vasoplegia, but controlled clinical trials to assess efficacy are needed.