Background: Quinine is used for treating severe malaria. There are arguments for giving an initial high dose. We examined the evidence for and against this policy.
Objectives: To assess the clinical outcomes and adverse events of a high first (loading) dose regimen of quinine compared with a uniform (no loading) dose regimen in people with severe malaria.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group's trials register (April 2004), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2004), MEDLINE (1966 to April 2004), EMBASE (1974 to April 2004), LILACS (1982 to April 2004), and conference proceedings for relevant abstracts. We also contacted researchers working in the field and checked the reference lists of all studies.
Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials comparing a high first (loading) dose of intravenous quinine with a uniform (no loading) dose of intravenous quinine in people with severe malaria. Main results: Four trials (n = 144) met the inclusion criteria. Loading dose was associated with fewer deaths, but this was not statistically significant (RR 0.62, CI 0.19 to 2.04, 3 trials). Loading dose was associated with faster clearance of parasites (WMD -7.44 hours, CI -13.24 to -1.64 hours, 2 trials), resolution of fever (WMD -11.11 hours, CI -20.04 to -2.18 hours, 2 trials). No statistically significant difference was detected for recovery of consciousness, neurological sequelae, or convulsions, but the numbers were small.
Authors' conclusions: Quinine loading dose reduced fever clearance time and parasite clearance time. Data are insufficient to directly demonstrate an impact of loading dose on risk of death.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003341. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003341.pub2.