Dopexamine & Meta-analysis

Meta-analyses of the effects of dopexamine in major surgery: do all roads lead to Rome? J. J. Pandit. Anaesthesia. 64;6:585-8. (Editorial)

Meta-analyses of the effect of dopexamine on hospital mortality. Gopal et al. Anaesthesia. 64;6:589-94.

Effect of dopexamine infusion on mortality following major surgery: individual patient data multi-regression analysis of published clinical trials. Crit Care Med. 2008 Apr;36(4):1323-9

Two recent meta-analysis have been published in answer to the question “does dopexamine reduce mortality in high risk general surgical patients”, with conflicting results. Pearse’s group found no difference in mortality using the entire data set, but a 50% mortality reduction with low-dose infusions. Gopal’s group found no difference using essentially the same data set, but a different statistical methodology. Panjit’s accompanying editorial does an excellent job of dissecting out why such apparent large differences might arise from the same data, and is recommended.

The take home message for me is that the results of combining heterogeneous studies together into meta-analysis tell us more about the statistical method than they do about the clinical question. Does dopexamine have a role? Is it the dopamine renal failure story all over again? I’m afraid we’ll need more data…..



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