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Intravenous dextrose aids in the resolution of ketosis in dehydrated patients not tolerating oral glucose and is often recommended in this clinical scenario. Our aim was to determine whether the addition of dextrose to intravenous rehydration solutions results in decreased hospital admissions or other clinically important benefits among dehydrated children or adults.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, SCOPUS, and the Cochrane Library were searched by a medical librarian from inception through November 2017. The inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials comparing dextrose containing intravenous solutions with intravenous solutions without dextrose in patients being treated for dehydration, and not already hospitalized.
The database and bibliographies search identified 1,472 unique citations. Only two trials (N = 333) met the inclusion criteria. Both compared normal saline with solutions of dextrose in normal saline. There was no statistically significant difference in admission rates (relative risk = 0.83; 95% confidence interval = 0.62 to 1.10) or revisits (relative risk = 0.54; 95% confidence interval = 0.24 to 1.22). Heterogeneity was low (I2 = 0). No other outcome results were eligible for pooling, but neither study found differences in any clinical outcomes. No adverse events were reported in either trial.
The addition of dextrose to intravenous saline has not been shown to improve clinical outcomes in dehydrated children presenting to the emergency department with gastroenteritis, but the confidence intervals around the estimate of effect are wide and include the possibility of substantial benefit.
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