Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a potentially serious complication of ovarian stimulation in assisted reproduction technology (ART). It is characterised by enlarged ovaries and an acute fluid shift from the intravascular space to the third space, resulting in bloating, increased risk of venous thromboembolism and decreased organ perfusion. Most cases are mild, but forms of moderate or severe OHSS appear in 3% to 8% of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles. The dopamine agonist cabergoline was introduced as a secondary prevention intervention for OHSS in women at high risk of OHSS undergoing ART treatment. As cabergoline seemed to be effective in preventing OHSS, other types of dopamine agonists, such as quinagolide and bromocriptine, have since been studied in ART to prevent OHSS.
To assess the effectiveness and safety of dopamine agonists in preventing OHSS in high-risk women undergoing ART treatment.
We searched several databases from inception to August 2016 (Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility Specialised Register of trials, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Clinicaltrials.gov and the World Health Organization International Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP)) for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of dopamine agonist in preventing OHSS. We handsearched the reference lists of relevant studies.
We considered RCTs which compared dopamine agonists with placebo/no intervention or another intervention for preventing OHSS in high-risk women for inclusion. Primary outcome measures were incidence of moderate or severe OHSS and live birth rate. Secondary endpoints were clinical pregnancy rate, multiple pregnancy rate, miscarriage rate and any other adverse effects of the treatment.
Two authors independently screened titles, abstracts and full texts of publications, selected studies, extracted data and assessed risk of bias. We resolved any disagreements by consensus. We reported pooled results as odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) by the Mantel-Haenszel method. In addition, we graded the overall quality of the evidence using GRADE criteria.
The search identified 14 new RCTs since the last published version of this review, resulting in 16 included RCTs involving 2091 high-risk women for this updated review. They evaluated three types of dopamine agonists: cabergoline, quinagolide and bromocriptine.When compared with placebo or no intervention, dopamine agonists seemed effective in the prevention of moderate or severe OHSS (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.39; 1022 participants; 8 studies; I(2) = 0%; moderate quality evidence). This suggests that if 29% of women undergoing ART experience moderate or severe OHSS, the use of dopamine agonists will lower this to 7% to 14% of women. There was no evidence of a difference in live birth rate, clinical pregnancy rate, multiple pregnancy rate or miscarriage rate (very low to moderate quality evidence). However, taking dopamine agonists (especially quinagolide) may increase the incidence of adverse events such as gastrointestinal adverse effects (OR 4.54, 95% CI 1.49 to 13.84; 264 participants; 2 studies; I(2) = 49%, very low quality evidence).When we compared dopamine agonist plus co-intervention with co-intervention, there was no evidence of a difference in the outcomes of moderate or severe OHSS, live birth rate, clinical pregnancy rate, miscarriage rate or adverse events. The co-interventions were hydroxyethyl starch (two RCTs) and albumin (one RCT).Cabergoline was associated with a lower risk of moderate or severe OHSS compared with human albumin (OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.38; 296 participants; 3 studies; I(2) = 72%). However, there was no evidence of a difference between cabergoline and hydroxyethyl starch, coasting (withholding any more ovarian stimulation for a few days) or prednisolone. There was an increased clinical pregnancy rate in the cabergoline group when cabergoline was compared with coasting (OR 2.65, 95% CI 1.13 to 6.21; 120 participants; 2 studies; I(2) = 0%). In other respects, there was no evidence of a difference in clinical pregnancy rate, multiple pregnancy rate or miscarriage rate between cabergoline and other active interventions.The quality of the evidence between dopamine agonist and placebo or no intervention ranged from very low to moderate, mainly due to poor reporting of study methods (mostly a lack of details on randomisation or blinding) and serious imprecision for some comparisons.
Dopamine agonists appear to reduce the incidence of moderate or severe OHSS in women at high risk of OHSS (moderate quality evidence). If a fresh embryo transfer is performed, the use of dopamine agonists does not affect the pregnancy outcome (live birth rate, clinical pregnancy rate and miscarriage rate) (very low to moderate quality evidence). However, dopamine agonists might increase the risk of adverse events, such as gastrointestinal symptoms. Further research should focus on dose-finding, comparisons with other effective treatments and consideration of combination treatments. Therefore, large, well-designed and well-executed RCTs that involve more clinical endpoints (e.g., live birth rate) are necessary to further evaluate the role of dopamine agonists in OHSS prevention.