UMEM Educational Pearls

Previous pearls have described the increasing evidence against colloid (e.g., hydroxyethyl starch) use during resuscitation. Now it appears that the crystalloid 0.9% normal saline (NS) may be under fire. 

The use of large volumes of NS has been associated with hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis and harm in animal studies. The risk of harm in humans, however, has been less clear. 

Bellomo et al. conducted a prospective observational study in which patients being resuscitated in the control group received NS at the clinicians' discretion; i.e., chloride-liberal strategy. The use of NS was restricted in the intervention group, where other less chloride containing fluids were used for resuscitation (e.g., Ringer's Lactate); i.e., a chloride-restrictive strategy. 

The authors found that when compared to patients in the chloride-liberal group, the chloride-restrictive group had significantly less rise in baseline creatinine, less overall AKI, and a reduced need for renal replacement therapy.

Bottom line: Although this was only an observational study, the liberal use of normal saline during resuscitation may increase the risk of AKI and renal replacement therapy. 


Bellomo, R. et al. Association between a chloride-liberal vs. chloride-restrictive intravenous fluid administration strategy and kidney injury in critically ill adults. JAMA. 2012 Oct 17;308(15):1566-72. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.13356.

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