Vasoplegic syndrome is a rising problem affecting morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Vasoplegia is a vasodilatory, shocklike syndrome characterized by decreased systemic vascular resistance, normal to high cardiac index, and hypotension refractory to fluid resuscitation and vasopressors. This review describes the presentation, physiology, risk factors, treatments, and implications of vasoplegia after cardiac surgery. No standardized methods for diagnosing and treating vasoplegia are available. Vasoplegia is caused by surgical trauma, systemic inflammation, and vascular dysregulation. Patients with comorbidities and those undergoing complex surgical procedures are at increased risk for vasoplegia. The use of β-blockers is protective. Vasoplegia is potentially reversible. Vasopressin is likely the most effective first-line vasopressor, and the use of methylene blue and/or hydroxocobalamin may restore vascular tone. Alternative therapies such as methylene blue and hydroxocobalamin show promise, but additional research and education are needed.

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