Dextrose 50% versus Dextrose 10% or Dextrose Titration for the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Hypoglycemia: A Systematic Review

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2021 Dec;36(6):730-738. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X21001047. Epub 2021 Oct 4.


Introduction: Paramedics commonly administer intravenous (IV) dextrose to severely hypoglycemic patients. Typically, the treatment provided is a 25g ampule of 50% dextrose (D50). This dose of D50 is meant to ensure a return to consciousness. However, this dose may cause harm and lead to difficulties regulating blood glucose levels (BGLs) post-treatment. It is hypothesized that a lower concentration, such as 10% dextrose (D10), may improve symptoms while minimizing harm.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central were systematically searched on September 15, 2020. The PRISMA guidelines were followed. GRADE and risk of bias were applied to determine the certainty of the evidence. Primary literature investigating the use of IV dextrose in hypoglycemic diabetic patients presenting to paramedics or the emergency department was included. Outcomes of interest included safety, efficacy (symptom resolution), and BGL.

Results: Of 680 abstracts screened, 51 full-text articles were reviewed, with eleven studies included. Data from three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and eight observational studies were analyzed. A single RCT comparing D10 to D50 was identified. The primary significant finding of the study was an increased post-treatment glycemic profile by 3.2mmol/L in the D50 group; no other outcomes had significant differences between groups. When comparing pooled data from all the included studies, there was greater symptom resolution in the D10 group (95.9%) compared to the D50 group (88.8%). However, the mean time to resolution was approximately four minutes longer in the D10 group (4.1 minutes [D50] versus 8.0 minutes [D10]). There was a greater need for subsequent doses with the use of D10 (19.5%) compared to D50 (8.1%). The post-treatment glycemic profile was lower in the D10 group at 6.2mmol/L versus 8.5mmol/L in the D50 group. Both treatments had nearly complete resolution of hypoglycemia: 98.7% (D50) and 99.2% (D10). No adverse events were observed in the D10 group (0/1057) compared to 13/310 adverse events in the D50 group.

Conclusion: Studies show D10 may be as effective as D50 at resolving symptoms and correcting hypoglycemia. Although the desired effect can take several minutes longer, there appear to be fewer adverse events. The post-D10-treatment BGL may result in fewer untoward hyperglycemic episodes.

Keywords: Emergency Medical Services; emergency medical technician; glucose; hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia* / drug therapy


  • Blood Glucose