Research Article

Treatment of vasospastic disease with prostaglandin E1.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.281.6247.1031 (Published 18 October 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:1031
  1. P C Clifford,
  2. M F Martin,
  3. E J Sheddon,
  4. J D Kirby,
  5. R N Baird,
  6. P A Dieppe

    Abstract

    Prostaglandin E1, a vasodilator and potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation, was administered to 26 patients with severe vasospastic disease of the hands. Patients tolerated infusions well and reported appreciable symptomatic improvement. Five of eight ischaemic ulcers healed in six weeks. Non-invasive studies of blood flow were used to observe haemodynamic changes during and after infusions. The Doppler-derived radial artery pulsatility index fell from 8.8 +/- 0.6 to 4.6 +/0 0.5 (mean +/- SEM), indicating hand vasodilatation. This fall was maintained 24 hours after infusion (5.9 +/- 0.9), but the index had returned to normal values at two weeks. The amplitude of finger pulse volume recordings increased (5.6 +/- 0.7 mm to 23.8 +/- 3.4 mm) and was raised two and six weeks after infusion (13.5 +/- 2.1 mm). Hand temperature measured by infrared radiometry also increased (27.4 +/- 0.7 degrees C to 31.2 +/- 1.2 degrees C). Intensity of digital vasospasm induced by cold water challenge was not objectively affected by prostaglandin E1 despite an increased finger temperature after infusion. Nevertheless, patients reported less frequent and severe attacks. Prostaglandin E1 given by central venous infusion is a safe new vasoactive agent that can produce appreciable symptomatic improvement by increasing digital perfusion, which may last for several weeks after treatment. Further study will define its mode of action and its place in the management of peripheral vascular disease.