Strategies to Prevent Acute Kidney Injury after Pediatric Cardiac Surgery – A Network Meta-Analysis

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Oct;16(10):1480-1490

Background and objectives

AKI is a common complication after pediatric cardiac surgery and has been associated with higher morbidity and mortality. We aimed to compare the efficacy of available pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic strategies to prevent AKI after pediatric cardiac surgery.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements

PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and reference lists of relevant articles were searched for randomized controlled trials from inception until August 2020. Random effects traditional pairwise, Bayesian network meta-analyses, and trial sequential analyses were performed.


Twenty randomized controlled trials including 2339 patients and 11 preventive strategies met the eligibility criteria. No overall significant differences were observed compared with control for corticosteroids, fenoldopam, hydroxyethyl starch, or remote ischemic preconditioning in traditional pairwise meta-analysis. In contrast, trial sequential analysis suggested a 80% relative risk reduction with dexmedetomidine and evidence of <57% relative risk reduction with remote ischemic preconditioning. Nonetheless, the network meta-analysis was unable to demonstrate any significant differences among the examined treatments, including also acetaminophen, aminophylline, levosimendan, milrinone, and normothermic cardiopulmonary bypass. Surface under the cumulative ranking curve probabilities showed that milrinone (76%) was most likely to result in the lowest risk of AKI, followed by dexmedetomidine (70%), levosimendan (70%), aminophylline (59%), normothermic cardiopulmonary bypass (57%), and remote ischemic preconditioning (55%), although all showing important overlap.


Current evidence from randomized controlled trials does not support the efficacy of most strategies to prevent AKI in the pediatric population, apart from limited evidence for dexmedetomidine and remote ischemic preconditioning.