Use of continuous-infusion loop diuretics in critically ill children

Pharmacotherapy. 2014 Aug;34(8):858-67. doi: 10.1002/phar.1443. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


Loop diuretics are commonly used in critically ill children to achieve appropriate fluid balance. They are often administered as a continuous intravenous infusion (CI) in hemodynamically unstable children because of fewer alterations in central venous pressure, oxygen saturation, and heart rate compared with scheduled intermittent dosing. During the past few years, however, drug shortages have been reported for bumetanide, torsemide, and furosemide. Therefore, to explore the use of alternative agents for CI, we performed a literature search to identify articles evaluating the use of furosemide, bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, and torsemide CI in critically ill children. The search was limited to English-language articles in the MEDLINE (1946-December 2013), EMBASE (1980-December 2013), and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970-December 2013) databases and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2005-December 2013). Reference citations from relevant articles were also reviewed. A total of 10 reports representing 173 pediatric patients were included in the analysis. Most of the reports provided evidence for furosemide, and no reports with torsemide were identified. Wide variability in CI dosing was reported in these studies. When selecting the loop diuretic CI for critically ill patients, clinicians should consider their adverse-event profiles, compatibility with other concomitant intravenous infusions, and pharmacoeconomics. Fluid balance and urine output should be monitored routinely to ensure appropriate response. The lowest initial dose should be used to achieve an appropriate fluid balance and target urine output of 1-3 ml/kg/hour while limiting the likelihood of toxicity.

Keywords: bumetanide; continuous infusion; ethacrynic acid; furosemide; loop diuretics; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Fluids / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Critical Illness*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors