Objective: To review the clinical spectrum and mechanisms of action of furosemide in human and small animal veterinary patients.
Data sources: Review of human and veterinary literature.
Data synthesis: Furosemide is used primarily for its properties as a loop diuretic; however, it has many other actions that may be clinically applicable. Furosemide has a vasodilatory effect that precedes diuresis that may confer its immediate benefit in patients with volume overload. Furosemide can be inhaled to relieve dyspnea in patients with bronchospasm. Furosemide also shows promise as an adjunct to antiseizure therapy to help control epilepsy, status epilepticus, and acute ischemic damage related to seizures. It has activity as an antioxidant, iodine depletive, and may increase thoracic lymph duct flow. Reported furosemide side effects include altered drug metabolism, electrolyte depletion, ototoxicity, mucociliary impairment, endocrine and exocrine pancreatic effects, delayed wound healing, sulfonamide toxicity, and thyroid binding interference. It is worthwhile to consider the implications of these effects when using furosemide either alone or in combination with other drugs.
Conclusions: Despite the research in animal models that demonstrates a wide spectrum of pharmacologic activity, furosemide has not been widely recognized or used clinically in veterinary medicine except as a loop diuretic.