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South Med J. 1991 Jun;84(6):692-6.

Hypertonic saline resuscitation: efficacy in a community-based burn unit.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, School of Medicine, Jackson 39216-4505.


Many have discussed hypertonic saline for resuscitation in burned patients only to discourage its use or to emphasize it only as a research tool and not as standard resuscitation. We reviewed the records of 47 adults with burns over 20% or more of the total body surface area (TBSA) in whom hypertonic saline was used as standard resuscitation fluid in a large community burn unit. The solution consisted of sodium, 300 mEq/L, acetate, 200 mEq/L, and chloride, 100 mEq/L, with an osmolality of 600 mOsm/L. The mean TBSA burned was 37% and the mean patient age was 44.8 years. Eighteen patients (mean age 39.7 years, mean TBSA burned 27%) received hypertonic saline alone. They required an average of 75% of the Parkland calculated volume to achieve a urinary output of 1 mL/kg/hr. The mean hematocrit value over the first 48 hours was 44.2% and the mean serum sodium level was 141.6 mEq/L. Twenty-nine patients (mean age 51.8 years, mean TBSA burned 47.8%) received hypertonic saline plus colloid (albumin or fresh frozen plasma). Colloid was used in older patients with more serious burns. This group required 57% of the Parkland calculated volume to achieve a urinary output of 1 mL/kg/hr. The mean hematocrit value was 45.1% and mean sodium level was 143.8 mEq/L. The mean weight gain for both groups was 7.3% of the admission weight. None of the patients had changes in pH or renal function. All patients survived the resuscitation phase of their injury; the overall death rate was 49%. We conclude that hypertonic saline is a safe, effective means of resuscitation even in a community-based unit. It allows less fluid to be delivered for adequate resuscitation. The usual hyponatremia, hemoconcentration, and significant weight gain associated with administration of isotonic solutions was avoided. Colloid may further improve the resuscitation capabilities of hypertonic saline.

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