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Mechanisms of action of hypertonic saline resuscitation in severe sepsis and septic shock.

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Department of Surgery, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Small volumes of 7.5% NaCl (2400mOsm/L) have been extensive evaluated in animal models of hemorrhagic shock and in clinical trials of post-traumatic hypotension and as volume support for complex cardiovascular procedures. Hypertonic solutions promote immediate blood volume expansion, restore cardiac output and regional blood flows, improve microcirculation and modulate immune responses, thereby decreasing inflammatory responses triggered by shock and trauma. A large number of very interesting in vivo and in vitro experiments highlighted that hypertonic saline resuscitation may decrease susceptibility to post-traumatic sepsis, modulate trauma and sepsis-induced immune dysfunction, inflammatory response and apoptosis. All those long-term benefits associated with hypertonic resuscitation may be of potential relevance for the management of severe sepsis and septic shock In this review, we describe the mechanisms of action of hypertonic saline based on experimental studies as well as its efficacy and safety based on its clinical use. We believe those studies support the need for additional experimental and clinical studies before the widespread use of hypertonic solutions for the treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock.

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