Intended for healthcare professionals


Meta-analysis of frusemide to prevent or treat acute renal failure

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 24 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:420
  1. Kwok M Ho (kwok.ho{at}, consultant1,
  2. David J Sheridan, resident medical officer1
  1. 1 Intensive Care Unit, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia 6000
  1. Correspondence to: K M Ho
  • Accepted 12 June 2006


Objective To investigate the potential beneficial and adverse effects of frusemide to prevent or treat acute renal failure in adults.

Design Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources Cochrane controlled trials register (2005 issue 4), Embase, and Medline (1966 to 1 February 2006), without language restrictions.

Review methods Two reviewers checked the quality of the studies and independently extracted data.

Results Nine randomised controlled trials totalling 849 patients with or at risk of acute renal failure were included. Outcome measures not significantly different after frusemide treatment were in-hospital mortality (relative risk 1.11, 95% confidence interval 0.92 to 1.33), risk for requiring renal replacement therapy or dialysis (0.99, 0.80 to 1.22), number of dialysis sessions required (weight mean difference - 0.48 sessions, - 1.45 to 0.50), and proportion of patients with persistent oliguria (urine output < 500 ml/day: 0.54, 0.18 to 1.61). Stratifying studies that used frusemide to prevent or treat acute renal failure did not change the results on mortality (relative risk ratio 2.10, 95% confidence interval 0.67 to 6.63) and the risk for requiring dialysis (4.12, 0.46 to 37.2). Evidence suggested an increased risk of temporary deafness and tinnitus in patients treated with high doses of frusemide (relative risk 3.97, 95% confidence interval 1.00 to 15.78).

Conclusions Frusemide is not associated with any significant clinical benefits in the prevention and treatment of acute renal failure in adults. High doses may be associated with an increased risk of ototoxicity.


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  • Contributors KMH and DJS searched the literature search, extracted the data, and drafted the manuscripts. KMH carried out the statistical analyses. DJS initiated the idea of the meta-analysis. KMH is guarantor.

  • Funding Department of Intensive Care, Royal Perth Hospital. Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethical approval Not required.

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