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Use of injectable nicardipine for neurovascular indications.

Author(s): Reddy P, Yeh YC

Affiliation(s): Partners Center for Drug Policy, Needham, Massachusetts 02494, USA.

Publication date & source: 2009-04, Pharmacotherapy., 29(4):398-409.

Publication type: Review

Injectable nicardipine is increasingly being used to manage neurovascular conditions. To better understand its place in therapy, we conducted an evidenced-based literature review. Two-hundred twenty-three article abstracts were identified; after independent review by two individuals and a supplemental manual search, 29 were deemed relevant and were included in this review. Nicardipine has been studied or recommended for management of hypertension in many neurovascular settings (ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, craniotomy, and spinal surgery), for vasospasm in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, and in acute traumatic brain injury. In the management of hypertension in acute stroke, nicardipine is one of several recommended options available; expert opinion forms the basis of these recommendations in clinical guidelines, with limited randomized controlled trial evidence to support its use. Among the various antihypertensive agents, nicardipine has the highest drug acquisition cost. In two meta-analyses, intravenous nicardipine had no impact on patient outcomes (death, disability) in patients with acute traumatic brain injury (relative risk [RR] 0.25, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05-1.27) or in patients with aneursymal subarachnoid hemorrhage (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.78-1.20). Intraarterial nicardipine reduced angiographic diameter (p value not reported) and peak systolic velocities on transcranial Doppler images (p<0.001) in published case series. Given nicardipine's high cost relative to that of other agents and the limited evidence to support its use in patients with neurovascular conditions, this drug should be considered only in patients who have failed or have contraindications to alternative agents in the management of hypertension. Although intraarterial nicardipine appears to be promising in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, well-designed studies are needed in this setting before its use can be routinely recommended.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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