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Intensive Care Med. 1998 Feb;24(2):147-51.

Volume replacement strategies on intensive care units: results from a postal survey.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Klinikum der Stadt Ludwigshafen, Germany.



To assess volume replacement strategies on intensive care units (ICUs) in Germany.


A postal survey questionnaire of 18 questions was sent to 451 ICUs in Germany. The questionnaire was sent to general, surgical, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, and medical ICUs of hospital with more than 200 beds.


286 questionnaires (64%) were returned and analysed. Hydroxyethylstarch (HES) solution is the solution most often used for volume replacement (total: 193 ICUs, exclusively HES: 93 ICUs), crystalloids are next (crystalloids exclusively: 61 ICUs), and human albumin is used rarely as a first choice. Clinical experience is a very important argument for administering volume. Diagnostic tools, e.g. measurement of central venous pressure or pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, also play an important role. Albumin/total protein and colloid osmotic pressure (COP) are measured often on ICUs (albumin measured routinely: 173 ICUs; COP measured routinely: 33 ICUs). Critical values for albumin/total protein are defined in most ICUs. Reduced plasma levels of albumin/total protein was the indication most often cited for administering human albumin. Only 149 ICUs (52%) have a financial budget for their unit. Costs still do not play a major role in the choice of volume replacement on 30 ICUs (10%).


The kind of volume therapy differs widely among the different ICUs. This questionnaire supported the supposition that no standards exist for volume therapy in intensive care patients. New results concerning the abuse of albumin in the critically ill have not yet influenced strategies of volume replacement.

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