Acute noninfectious diarrhea is a common phenomenon in intensive care unit patients. Multiple treatments are suggested but the most effective management is unknown. A working group of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of loperamide, diphenoxylate/atropine, and elemental diet on acute noninfectious diarrhea in critically ill adults and to develop recommendations applicable to daily clinical practice.
The literature search identified 11 randomized controlled trials (RCT) appropriate for inclusion. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation methodology was applied to evaluate the effect of loperamide, diphenoxylate/atropine, and elemental diet on the resolution of noninfectious diarrhea in critically ill adults based on selected outcomes: improvement in clinical diarrhea, fecal frequency, time to the diarrhea resolution, and hospital length of stay.
The level of evidence was assessed as very low. Analyses of 10 RCTs showed that loperamide facilitates resolution of diarrhea. Diphenoxylate/atropine was evaluated in three RCTs and was as effective as loperamide and more effective than placebo. No studies evaluating elemental diet as an intervention in patients with diarrhea were found.
Loperamide and diphenoxylate/atropine are conditionally recommended to be used in critically ill patients with acute noninfectious diarrhea.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Systematic Review/Guidelines, level III.