Hypodermoclysis for control of dehydration in terminal-stage cancer

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2000 Sep;6(8):370-4. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2000.6.8.9060.


Many of those involved in palliative care have justifiable objections to the introduction of intravenous hydration in patients with dehydration-associated symptoms and advanced cancer. Researchers from the University of Buenos Aires carried out a randomized, comparative and prospective trail to determine the usefulness of hypodermoclysis in the control of thirst, chronic nausea and delirium. Forty-two patients were randomized into two groups. Both groups received drugs subcutaneously (haloperidol 2.5 mg every 4 hours to control delirium and/or metoclopramide 10 mg every 4 hours to control chronic nausea). The study group also received 1000 ml 5% dextrose in water infusion plus 140 milliequivalent per litre (mEq/L) sodium chloride, at a rate of 42 ml/hour per day. Both groups showed significant and equal improvements in relief of thirst and chronic nausea at 24 hours. After 48 hours, this improvement was maintained in the group that received hydration, but only for the relief of chronic nausea. Delirium did not improve significantly in either group during the 48-hour trial period. Current data suggest that decisions on rehydration of patients with terminal-phase cancer should be based more on the patient's comfort than on providing optimal hydration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dehydration / prevention & control*
  • Delirium / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric