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Crit Care. 2014 Dec 4;18(6):656. doi: 10.1186/s13054-014-0656-0.

The impact of hydroxyethyl starches in cardiac surgery: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Surgical Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy, Harlaching Hospital, Munich Municipal Hospital Group, Munich, Germany.
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Hôpital Cardiovasculaire et Pneumologique Louis Pradel, Hospices Civils de Lyon, 28 avenue du Doyen Lépine, Lyon, Bron, Cedex 69677, France.
Faculté de Médecine Lyon Est, Université Lyon 1, Lyon, 69008, France.
Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital of Munich, Nussbaumstrasse 20, Munich, 80336, Germany.
Department of General Anesthesiology, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, Mail Code E31, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA.



Recent studies in septic patients showed that adverse effects of hydroxyethyl starches (HESs) possibly outweigh their benefits in severely impaired physiological haemostasis. It remains unclear whether this also applies to patient populations that are less vulnerable. In this meta-analysis, we evaluated the impact of various HES generations on safety and efficacy endpoints in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.


We searched the PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the English or German language comparing the use of HES to any other colloid or crystalloid during open heart surgery.


Blood loss and transfusion requirements were higher for older starches with mean molecular weights more than 200 kDa compared to other volume substitutes. In contrast, this effect was not observed with latest-generation tetrastarches (130/0.4), which performed even better when compared to albumin (blood loss of tetrastarch versus albumin: standardised mean difference (SMD), -0.34; 95% CI, -0.63, -0.05; P = 0.02; versus gelatin: SMD, -0.06; 95% CI, -0.20, 0.08; P = 0.39; versus crystalloids: SMD, -0.05; 95% CI, -0.20, 0.10; P = 0.54). Similar results were found for transfusion needs. Lengths of stay in the intensive care unit or hospital were significantly shorter with tetrastarches compared to gelatin (intensive care unit: SMD, -0.10; 95% CI, -0.15, -0.05; P = 0.0002) and crystalloids (hospital: SMD, -0.52; 95% CI, -0.90, -0.14; P = 0.007).


In this meta-analysis of RCTs, we could not identify safety issues with tetrastarches compared with other colloid or crystalloid solutions in terms of blood loss, transfusion requirements or hospital length of stay in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The safety data on coagulation with older starches raise some issues that need to be addressed in future trials.

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