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: The efficacy of exchange transfusion as an adjunct treatment for severe falciparum malaria is controversial. No sufficiently powered, randomized, controlled study has been reported. We analyzed 8 studies that compared survival rates associated with adjunct exchange transfusion with those associated with antimalarial chemotherapy alone. Exchange transfusion was not associated with a higher survival rate than was antimalarial chemotherapy alone (odds ratio [OR], 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7-2.1). However, patients who received transfusions had higher levels of parasitemia and more-severe malaria. Sensitivity analysis found that survival rates were higher among patients with partial immunity to malaria (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.2-1.2) than they were among patients with no immunity (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 0.9-4.8; P = .007). Exchange transfusion does not appear to increase the survival rate; however, there were significant problems with the comparability of treatment groups in the studies reviewed, and a randomized controlled trial is necessary to determine whether exchange transfusion is beneficial.

(C) Copyright Oxford University Press 2002.