Low-dose dopamine: a systematic review

Intensive Care Med. 2002 Jul;28(7):877-83. doi: 10.1007/s00134-002-1346-y. Epub 2002 May 31.


Objective: To determine the magnitude of the treatment effect of low-dose dopamine on renal function in patients at risk of and in patients with early renal injury.

Data sources: MEDLINE, citation review of relevant primary and review articles, personal files, and contact with expert informants.

Study selection: Randomized controlled studies that compared low-dose dopamine with placebo for the prevention or treatment of acute renal dysfunction. From 122 articles screened, 21 met the inclusion criteria for this meta-analysis. Of these six, were excluded.

Data extraction: Fifteen studies containing 970 subjects were analyzed. Descriptive and outcome data were extracted. The main outcome measure was the absolute change in serum creatinine. In addition the number of patients who developed an acute decline in renal function was recorded. The meta-analysis was performed using the random effects model.

Data synthesis: The meta-analysis demonstrated no significant difference between the absolute change in serum creatinine (5.1 micromol/l, 95% CI of -6.5 to +16.7) and the incidence of acute renal dysfunction (31% vs 33%, relative risk 1.01, 95% CI of 0.79-1.28) between those patients receiving low-dose dopamine and the control group. In addition, no sub-group of patients showed improved renal function with low-dose dopamine.

Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis confirms that low-dose dopamine has no reno-protective effect. Considering the potential side-effects of dopamine this agent should not be used for this indication.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Creatine / blood
  • Dopamine / administration & dosage*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • United States


  • Placebos
  • Creatine
  • Dopamine