Desmospressin: A Primer on DDAVP

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Desmopressin

Desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) is a synthetic analog of vasopressin and like ADH, epinephrine, and insulin, releases a variety of hemostatically active substances from vascular endothelium.  It is administered in doses of 0.3 µg/kg by intravenous, intranasal, or subcutaneous routes.  It has a half life of 55 minutes, (with clinical effects lasting from 5 to 6 hours) and results in an approximate fourfold increase in circulating levels of factor VIII, prostacycline, t-PA, and von Willebrand factor (vWF).  The overall effect of desmopressin is hemostatic and it has been used to treat uremia, cirrhosis, platelet disorders, and mild or moderate cases of hemophilia A (von Willebrand’s disease).

 

Abstract

A best evidence topic in cardiac surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was, in adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery requiring extracorporeal cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), does administration of desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) reduce postoperative blood loss and transfusion requirements? Altogether 38 papers were found using the reported search, of which 19 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question.

The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. Perioperative administration of DDAVP in adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery requiring CPB may result in a small but significant reduction in postoperative blood loss. However, this does not translate into a reproducible, clinically significant reduction in exposure to transfusion in unselected patients exposed to CPB. Several sub-groups of patients have been identified in whom DDAVP reduces postoperative blood loss and transfusion requirements. These sub-groups include patients who have received preoperative aspirin within 7 days of surgery, patients with CPB times in excess of 140 min and patients with demonstrable pre- or perioperative platelet dysfunction as determined by TEG analysis or platelet function assays.

Platelet dysfunction at the time of surgery may be secondary to preoperative administration of antiplatelet medications, the result of pathological processes such as von Willebrands disease, uraemia or aortic stenosis with its associated sheer stress, as well as operative variables such as prolonged exposure to CPB. The evidence does not support the routine use of DDAVP in all cardiac surgery; indeed, it is clear that there is no significant reduction in postoperative blood loss or transfusion requirements with the administration of DDAVP in patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) in the absence of the features noted above.

Given the absence of a clinically significant reduction in exposure to blood transfusion in unselected patients, we cannot recommend the routine use of DDAVP in patients exposed to CPB. However, DDAVP may reduce postoperative bleeding in patients who have received preoperative aspirin within 7 days of surgery, patients with CPB times in excess of 140 min and patients with demonstrable platelet dysfunction and should be used selectively in these subgroups.

KEYWORDS:

Cardiothoracic; Desmopressin acetate; Haemorrhage; Review; Surgery; Transfusion

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References

Woodman RC, Harker LA. Bleeding Complications Associated with Cardiopulmonary Bypass. Blood. 1990;76:1680-97,

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