The Efficacy of Pralidoxime in the Treatment of Organophosphate Poisoning in Humans: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials


Internal Medicine

Document Type


Publication Title



Introduction The benefits of atropine in the treatment of acute organophosphate (OP) poisoning has been well established, while that of oximes is still uncertain. Pralidoxime is the most often used oxime worldwide. In vitro experiments have consistently shown that oximes are effective reactivators of human acetylcholinesterase enzyme, inhibited by OP compounds. However, the clinical benefit of pralidoxime is still unclear. A recent meta-analysis has found that pralidoxime provides no significant improvement in outcome and rather may cause harm while increasing the economic burden in low-income communities where its use is the most prevalent. Objectives This study aimed to provide an updated evaluation of the efficacy of pralidoxime in addition to atropine alone in the treatment of patients with acute OP poisoning in terms of mortality, need for ventilator support, and the incidence of intermediate syndrome. The intermediate syndrome is a clinical syndrome that occurs 24 to 96 hours after the ingestion of an OP compound and is characterized by prominent weakness of neck flexors, muscles of respiration, and proximal limb muscles. Materials and methods We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and databases until January 2019 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the English language that evaluated the use of pralidoxime in individuals of any age, gender or nationality presenting with an alleged history of OP intake. The primary outcome was mortality. Secondary outcomes were the need for ventilator support and the incidence of intermediate syndrome. The risk of bias in included studies was assessed using the tool recommended by the Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Review of Interventions. Treatment/control differences in these outcomes across included studies were combined using risk ratios (RR). Results Six randomized controlled trials (n = 646) fulfilled the inclusion criteria, including one further trial missed from the most recent systematic review. The risk of bias varied across studies, with Eddleston 2009 being of the lowest risk and Cherian 2005 being of high risk. The risk of mortality (RR = 1.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97 to 2.41, P = 0.07) and the need for ventilator support (RR = 1.29, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.71, P = 0.08) were not significantly different between the pralidoxime and the control group. There was a significant increase in the incidence of intermediate syndrome in the pralidoxime group (RR = 1.63; 95% CI 1.01 to 2.62, P = 0.04). Conclusions Based on our meta-analysis of the available RCTs, pralidoxime was not shown to be beneficial in patients with acute OP poisoning. Our findings are consistent with the other literature.

First Page








Publication Date


PubMed ID