Hyperchloremia causes harm to the kidneys

It has been 7 years since this study came out, and many since. Here we are still using saline like it’s benign. Part of the problem is that clinicians get set in their ways and just don’t read. Sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s true. Some say, “this has always worked and I haven’t seen a problem with it” so they keep doing what they’re doing. Our job is to cause no harm. I’m trying my best to minimize that but after all, we are all human. Being lazy is no excuse, though. Hyperchloremia causes harm.

This article from 2012 shows a study that was performed on 12 healthy volunteers. It was a randomized, double blind, cross over study. I bet they were either college students or medical students; the mean age was 22. This was not disclosed in the article, of course. The participants received either 2L of 0.9% NaCl or plasma-lyte over an hour on separate occasions 7 to 10 days apart. If you still don’t know what Plasma-lyte is, you must be new here. They did some bloodwork as well as MRI’s. They must have had some good funding here.

Amongst the results, they found a significant difference in the serum chloride, as expected (p < 0.0001) and a much lower strong ion difference (p = 0.025) in the saline group. All the other electrolytes were unremarkable. From the MRI results, they found lower mean renal artery flow velocity (p = 0.045) and lower renal cortical tissue perfusion (p = 0.008) in the saline group. This proves that hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis is not benign.

A hat tip to the authors.


Chowdhury AH, Cox EF, Francis ST, Lobo DN. A randomized, controlled, double-blind crossover study on the effects of 2-L infusions of 0.9% saline and plasma-lyte® 148 on renal blood flow velocity and renal cortical tissue perfusion in healthy volunteers. Ann Surg. 2012 Jul;256(1):18-24. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318256be72. Erratum in: Ann Surg. 2013 Dec;258(6):1118. PMID: 22580944.
Link to Article

Although great care has been taken to ensure that the information in this post is accurate, eddyjoemd, LLC shall not be held responsible or in any way liable for the continued accuracy of the information, or for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom.
Learn more about IV fluids here: http://eddyjoemd.com/ivf-guide/(opens in a new tab).