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Dopamine-resistant hypotension and severe retinopathy of prematurity.



To examine the relationship between the cause or severity of hypotension and the development of severe ROP (sROP) (≥stage 3 or stage 2 with plus disease in zone I or II).

Study design

Infants (<28 weeks' gestation, n = 242) were observed for hypotension and treated with a standardized hypotension-treatment protocol. Hypotension was classified as resulting from one of the following causes: (1) culture-positive infection and/or necrotizing enterocolitis; (2) patent ductus arteriosus ligation; or (3) "idiopathic" (no cause identified other than prematurity), and as being either dopamine responsive or dopamine resistant. Cortisol levels were measured for infants with dopamine-resistant hypotension. Eye examinations were performed until the retinopathy of prematurity resolved or the vasculature matured. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the relationship between the cause/severity of hypotension and sROP.


Overall, 66% of infants developed hypotension (41% were dopamine responsive and 25% were dopamine resistant). sROP developed in 19% of infants. "Idiopathic" dopamine-resistant hypotension was the only cause significantly related to sROP. Of the infants with dopamine-resistant hypotension, 66% had low serum cortisol (≤10 μg/dL). Low cortisol, in the presence of dopamine-resistant hypotension, was significantly associated with sROP and accounted for the relationship between "idiopathic" hypotension and sROP. When low cortisol was included in statistical models, other known risk factors, such as immature gestation, were no longer significantly related to sROP.


Low cortisol, in the presence of dopamine-resistant hypotension, has the greatest magnitude of association with sROP.

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