Does using Balanced Crystalloids vs. Saline improve mortality in sepsis?

Sometimes we need to make minor adjustments in what we do in the ICU to see a difference. I have been going off for several years now on my instagram account as well as YouTube channel regarding the importance of utilizing balanced crystalloids such as lactated ringers or plasma-lyte and I keep on hearing “there’s no mortality benefit”. Well, now there’s data showing that there is. I knew it was just a matter of time. It just makes sense. This analysis is a piggyback on the SMART trial performed by the good people over at Vanderbilt published last year in the NEJM. In that study and therefore this study, they looked at using saline solution versus either lactated ringers or plasma-lyte. You may be asking yourself “but I thought that study didn’t show any mortality benefit”. You are correct, it didn’t, but that finding was regarding all critically ill patients.

This study looked at 30 day mortality in patients in the MICU who were septic. All in all, they looked at 1641 patients with the diagnosis of sepsis. Note: not necessarily septic shock. 34.1% of patients were on vasopressors and 40% were on the vent.

Here are the outcomes:
30 day mortality: 26.3% in the balanced crystalloids group vs. 31.2% in the saline group (p=0.01)
Patients who received balanced crystalloids had more days free of vasopressors, free of dialysis days, lower plasma lactate concentrations after ICU admission.
Debate settled? Well, no. But check out the article for yourself before taking my opinion as gospel.


Link to Abstract

Link to FULL FREE Article

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