Nitric Oxide of Clear Benefit to Newborns with Pulmonary Hypertension, Study Says

Özge Özkaya, PhD avatar

by Özge Özkaya, PhD |

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Nitric oxide inhalation can significantly improve oxygen levels in newborns with pulmonary hypertension, research confirmed.  It can also reduce pulmonary arterial pressure, shorten the time necessary for treatment, and reduce the risk of mortality.

“It is, therefore, worthy of clinical application,” wrote Dr. H. W. Wu and the co-authors of the study, “Effect of nitric oxide inhalation for the treatment of neonatal pulmonary hypertension,” published in the journal European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.

Researchers with the Department of Neonatal Medicine, Xuzhou Children’s Hospital in China, analyzed 86 patients with newborn pulmonary hypertension. They divided the babies into two groups, with half receiving high-frequency oscillatory ventilation treatment only (control group), and the other half being given ventilation combined with nitric oxide inhalation treatment. They then analyzed several parameters to assess the therapeutic effects of nitric oxide inhalation.

The team saw that the amount of extra oxygen needed to ensure the right oxygenation is maintained decreased over time in both groups. But this amount was lower for babies treated with ventilation and nitric oxide inhalation, compared to those treated with ventilation only, at all time points analyzed.

Oxygen pressure and oxygen saturation in the blood showed an upward trend, and both were higher in patients co-treated with nitric oxide inhalation. Similarly, oxygenation index, which is a measure of oxygen use in the body, increased with time and was higher in co-treated patients compared to those treated with ventilation only.

When researchers measured pulmonary arterial pressure, they found that it dropped over time, but was again lower in the group of babies co-treated with nitric oxide inhalation.

Finally, the duration of mechanical ventilation and oxygen therapy needed, as well as mortality rate, was significantly lower in patients co-treated with nitric oxide treatment.

Nitric oxide relaxes smooth muscles and selectively dilates blood vessels in the lungs. It can prevent alveolar collapse, reduce vascular resistance in the lungs and improve lung capacity, and is widely used to treat newborn babies with pulmonary hypertension.

This study confirms that treating newborns with pulmonary hypertension with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation combined with nitric oxide inhalation is beneficial.