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Crit Care. 2012 Feb 16;16(1):110. doi: 10.1186/cc11155.

Hydroxyethylstarch 200/0.5--the horse has bolted.

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Department of Anaesthetics and Intensive Care, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London SW10 9NH, UK.


Hydroxyethylstarch (HES) 200/0.5 is associated with renal failure. Several studies have suggested that renal function is affected but the subsequent arguments leave the clinician in no man's land. A recent study in Critical Care by Simon and colleagues using a two hit animal model of shock demonstrates that the use of a higher molecular weight starch, HES 200/0.5, is associated with impaired renal function when compared with ringers acetate, gelatin or a lower molecular weight starch, HES 130/0.42. The authors conclude that both the lower molecular weight starch and the ringers acetate 'preserve renal function and attenuate tubular damage better than 10% hydroxyethylstarch 200/0.5 in saline'. Added to the previous evidence, the renal effects of HES200/0.5 are probably real. Many clinicians have already moved to the lower molecular weight starches on the basis of doubt rather than certainty, but this study tips the balance. The cause remains elusive and the lack of a mechanism should be seen as a problem.

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