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Severe malaria mainly affects children aged under 5 years, non-immune travellers, migrants to malarial areas, and people living in areas with unstable or seasonal malaria. Cerebral malaria, causing encephalopathy and coma, is fatal in around 20% of children and adults, and may lead to neurological sequelae in survivors. Severe malarial anaemia may have a mortality rate of over 13%. The role of fluid resuscitation in severe malaria is complex and controversial. Volume expansion could help to improve impaired organ perfusion and correct metabolic acidosis. However, rapid volume expansion could aggravate intracranial hypertension associated with cerebral malaria, leading to an increased risk of cerebral herniation.We conducted a systematic overview, aiming to answer the following clinical question: What is the optimal method of fluid resuscitation in patients with severe malaria? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to December 2014 (Clinical Evidence overviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this overview).At this update, searching of electronic databases retrieved 187 studies. After deduplication and removal of conference abstracts, 93 records were screened for inclusion in the overview. Appraisal of titles and abstracts led to the exclusion of 82 studies and the further review of 11 full publications. Of the 11 full articles evaluated, two systematic reviews and three RCTs were added at this update. We performed a GRADE evaluation for seven PICO combinations.In this systematic overview, we categorised the efficacy for three interventions based on information about the effectiveness and safety of human albumin, intravenous fluids, and whole blood or plasma.



BMJ clinical evidence

Publication Date





University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Blood, Plasma, Humans, Malaria, Cerebral, Fluid Therapy, Serum Albumin, Human