Use of dopamine in acute renal failure


  • This review has been presented in short form at IVECCS 2005 in Atlanta.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. Nadja E. Sigrist, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty of Bern, Laenggassstrasse 128, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.


Objective: To review the current understanding of dopamine and its use in the prevention and treatment of acute renal failure (ARF).

Data sources: Original research articles and scientific reviews.

Human data synthesis: Low-dose dopamine administration has been shown to increase natriuresis and urinary output in both healthy individuals and in a few small studies in human patients with renal insufficiency. However, in several large meta-analyses, dopamine treatment did not change mortality or the need for dialysis. Due to the potential side effects, the use of dopamine for prevention and treatment of ARF is no longer recommended in human medicine.

Veterinary data synthesis: Low-dose dopamine increases urinary output in healthy animals and animal models of ARF if given before the insult. There are no available studies looking at the effect of low-dose dopamine therapy in naturally occurring ARF in dogs or cats.

Conclusion: Due to the potential side effects of low-dose dopamine therapy, the results from large human trials, and the lack of information in veterinary medicine, the use of dopamine for treatment of ARF in veterinary patients should be further evaluated.