Effect of Intravenous Fluid Treatment With a Balanced Solution vs 0.9%Saline Solution on Mortality in Critically Ill Patients: The BaSICS Randomized Clinical Trial

Zampieri FG, Machado FR, Biondi RS, Freitas FGR, Veiga VC, Figueiredo RC, Lovato WJ, Amêndola CP, Serpa-Neto A, Paranhos JLR, Guedes MAV, Lúcio EA, Oliveira-Júnior LC, Lisboa TC, Lacerda FH, Maia IS, Grion CMC, Assunção MSC, Manoel ALO, Silva-Junior JM, Duarte P, Soares RM, Miranda TA, de Lima LM, Gurgel RM, Paisani DM, Corrêa TD, Azevedo LCP, Kellum JA, Damiani LP, Brandão da Silva N, Cavalcanti AB; BaSICS investigators and the BRICNet members. Effect of Intravenous Fluid Treatment With a Balanced Solution vs 0.9% Saline Solution on Mortality in Critically Ill Patients: The BaSICS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2021 Aug 10;326(9):1–12. doi: 10.1001/jama.2021.11684. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34375394; PMCID: PMC8356144.

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Importance: Intravenous fluids are used for almost all intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Clinical and laboratory studies have questioned whether specific fluid types result in improved outcomes, including mortality and acute kidney injury.

Objective: To determine the effect of a balanced solution vs saline solution (0.9% sodium chloride) on 90-day survival in critically ill patients.

Design, setting, and participants: Double-blind, factorial, randomized clinical trial conducted at 75 ICUs in Brazil. Patients who were admitted to the ICU with at least 1 risk factor for worse outcomes, who required at least 1 fluid expansion, and who were expected to remain in the ICU for more than 24 hours were randomized between May 29, 2017, and March 2, 2020; follow-up concluded on October 29, 2020. Patients were randomized to 2 different fluid types (a balanced solution vs saline solution reported in this article) and 2 different infusion rates (reported separately).

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive either a balanced solution (n = 5522) or 0.9% saline solution (n = 5530) for all intravenous fluids.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was 90-day survival.

Results: Among 11 052 patients who were randomized, 10 520 (95.2%) were available for the analysis (mean age, 61.1 [SD, 17] years; 44.2% were women). There was no significant interaction between the 2 interventions (fluid type and infusion speed; P = .98). Planned surgical admissions represented 48.4% of all patients. Of all the patients, 60.6% had hypotension or vasopressor use and 44.3% required mechanical ventilation at enrollment. Patients in both groups received a median of 1.5 L of fluid during the first day after enrollment. By day 90, 1381 of 5230 patients (26.4%) assigned to a balanced solution died vs 1439 of 5290 patients (27.2%) assigned to saline solution (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.90-1.05]; P = .47). There were no unexpected treatment-related severe adverse events in either group.

Conclusion and relevance: Among critically ill patients requiring fluid challenges, use of a balanced solution compared with 0.9% saline solution did not significantly reduce 90-day mortality. The findings do not support the use of this balanced solution.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02875873.

Semler MW, Self WH, Wanderer JP, Ehrenfeld JM, Wang L, Byrne DW, Stollings JL, Kumar AB, Hughes CG, Hernandez A, Guillamondegui OD, May AK, Weavind L, Casey JD, Siew ED, Shaw AD, Bernard GR, Rice TW; SMART Investigators and the Pragmatic Critical Care Research Group. Balanced Crystalloids versus Saline in Critically Ill Adults. N Engl J Med. 2018 Mar 1;378(9):829-839. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1711584. Epub 2018 Feb 27. PMID: 29485925; PMCID: PMC5846085.

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Background: Both balanced crystalloids and saline are used for intravenous fluid administration in critically ill adults, but it is not known which results in better clinical outcomes.

Methods: In a pragmatic, cluster-randomized, multiple-crossover trial conducted in five intensive care units at an academic center, we assigned 15,802 adults to receive saline (0.9% sodium chloride) or balanced crystalloids (lactated Ringer’s solution or Plasma-Lyte A) according to the randomization of the unit to which they were admitted. The primary outcome was a major adverse kidney event within 30 days – a composite of death from any cause, new renal-replacement therapy, or persistent renal dysfunction (defined as an elevation of the creatinine level to ≥200% of baseline) – all censored at hospital discharge or 30 days, whichever occurred first.

Results: Among the 7942 patients in the balanced-crystalloids group, 1139 (14.3%) had a major adverse kidney event, as compared with 1211 of 7860 patients (15.4%) in the saline group (marginal odds ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 0.99; conditional odds ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.82 to 0.99; P=0.04). In-hospital mortality at 30 days was 10.3% in the balanced-crystalloids group and 11.1% in the saline group (P=0.06). The incidence of new renal-replacement therapy was 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively (P=0.08), and the incidence of persistent renal dysfunction was 6.4% and 6.6%, respectively (P=0.60).

Conclusions: Among critically ill adults, the use of balanced crystalloids for intravenous fluid administration resulted in a lower rate of the composite outcome of death from any cause, new renal-replacement therapy, or persistent renal dysfunction than the use of saline. (Funded by the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and others; SMART-MED and SMART-SURG ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT02444988 and NCT02547779 .).

Zhu Y, Guo N, Song M, Xia F, Wu Y, Wang X, Chen T, Yang Z, Yang S, Zhang Y, Zhang X, Shi Q, Shen X. Balanced crystalloids versus saline in critically ill patients: The PRISMA study of a meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Sep 24;100(38):e27203. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000027203. PMID: 34559108; PMCID: PMC8462635.

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Objective: To compare the safety of balanced crystalloids and saline among critically ill patients in intensive care unit (ICU).

Methods: The Medline, EMBASE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched from the inception dates to May 17, 2020 in order to identify randomized controlled trials which evaluated the safety of balanced crystalloids and saline in critically ill patients. The primary outcome was major adverse kidney events within 30 days (MAKE30). The second outcomes included 30-day mortality, ICU mortality, In-hospital mortality, ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay, creatinine highest before discharge (mg/dl) and needs for renal replacement therapy (RRT).

Results: A total of nine randomized controlled trials involving 19,578 critical ill patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The outcomes of this meta-analysis showed that balanced crystalloids treatment shared the same risk of MAKE30 with saline treatment among critical ill patients [RR = 0.95; 95%CI, 0.88 to 1.01; Z = 1.64 (P = .102)]. The clinical mortality which included 30-day mortality [RR = 0.92; 95%CI, 0.85 to 1.01; Z = 1.78 (P = .075)], ICU mortality [RR = 0.92; 95%CI, 0.83 to 1.02; Z = 1.67 (P = .094)] and In-hospital mortality [RR = 0.93; 95%CI, 0.71 to 1.21; Z = 0.55 (P = .585)] were similar between balanced crystalloids treatment and saline treatment among critical ill patients. Patients who received balanced crystalloids treatment or saline treatment needed the same length of ICU stay [WMD = 0.00; 95%CI, -0.09 to 0.10; Z = 0.09 (P = .932)] and hospital stay [WMD = 0.59; 95%CI, -0.33 to 1.51; Z = 1.26 (P = .209)]. Critical ill patients who received balanced crystalloids treatment or saline treatment had the same level of creatinine highest before discharge [WMD = 0.01; 95%CI, -0.02 to 0.04; Z = 0.76 (P = .446)] and needs for RRT [RR = 1.04; 95%CI, 0.75 to 1.43; Z = 0.21 (P = .830)]. Similar results were obtained in subgroups of trials stratified according to the age of patients (children or adults).

Conclusions: When compared with saline, balanced crystalloids could not reduce the risk of MAKE30, 30-day mortality, ICU mortality and in-hospital mortality, could not reduce the length of ICU stay, length of hospital stay, the level of creatinine highest before discharge and the needs for RRT among critical ill children and adults. Therefore, it was still too early for balanced crystalloids to replace normal saline among critical ill patients.

Pediatric Clinical Trial

Pragmatic Pediatric Trial of Balanced Versus Normal Saline Fluid in Sepsis (PRoMPT BOLUS)

Brief Summary:
The objectives of this multicenter pragmatic clinical trial are to compare the effectiveness and relative safety of balanced fluid resuscitation versus 0.9% “normal” saline in children with septic shock, including whether balanced fluid resuscitation can reduce progression of kidney injury.

Detailed Description:
Approximately 5,000 children die from septic shock each year in the United States (US); thousands more die worldwide. Most children admitted with sepsis receive initial resuscitation in an emergency department (ED), where septic shock remains one of the most critical of illnesses treated by ED clinicians. Sepsis is also the most expensive hospital condition in the US, and the most common cause of pediatric multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). While all crystalloid fluids help to reverse shock, the most effective and safest type of crystalloid fluid resuscitation is unknown.

Crystalloid fluids can be categorized as non-buffered (most commonly 0.9% normal saline [NS]) or buffered/balanced fluids (BF). In the US, the most common BF is lactated Ringer’s (LR), but other example include PlasmaLyte. NS and BF are inexpensive, stable at room temperature, and nearly universally available with identical storage volumes and dosing strategies. Notably, both are also of proven clinical benefit in septic shock and have extensive clinical experience for use in fluid resuscitation of critically ill patients. However, despite data suggesting that BF resuscitation may have superior efficacy and safety, NS remains the most commonly used fluid largely based on historical precedent.

To definitively test the comparative effectiveness of NS and BF, a well-powered randomized controlled trial (RCT) is necessary. A large pragmatic randomized trial embedded within everyday clinical practice provides a cost-efficient and generalizable approach to inform clinicians about best comparative effectiveness of common therapies. Data from a prior single-center feasibility study demonstrated that a pragmatic randomized clinical trial of NS versus BF for children with septic shock presenting to an emergency department is feasible and can be successfully carried out by embedding simple study procedures within routine clinical practice. This multi-center study that will now test for differential clinical effects, as part of a definitive comparative effectiveness trial, of NS versus BF for crystalloid resuscitation of pediatric septic shock.

This multicenter phase trial will include enrollment and study procedures across 30+ US and international sites to compare the effectiveness and relative safety of NS versus BF (LR and PlasmaLyte) for crystalloid resuscitation of children with septic shock. The primary endpoint is major adverse kidney events within 30 days along with other secondary clinical, safety, and kidney biomarker endpoints.

Pragmatic Pediatric Trial of Balanced Versus Normal Saline Fluid in Sepsis: A Pilot Feasibility Study (PRoMPT BOLUS)

Brief Summary:
The objective of this pilot study is to assess overall feasibility prior to embarking on a larger randomized pragmatic trial comparing the clinical effectiveness of fluid resuscitation with NS versus LR for pediatric patients with suspected septic shock. Necessary feasibility assessments include ensuring appropriate compliance with study fluid in each of the two arms, effectiveness of study enrollment using a pragmatic study design embedded within routine clinical practice, and acceptability of using Exception from Informed Consent (EFIC).


Balamuth F, Kittick M, McBride P, Woodford AL, Vestal N, Casper TC, Metheney M, Smith K, Atkin NJ, Baren JM, Dean JM, Kuppermann N, Weiss SL. Pragmatic Pediatric Trial of Balanced Versus Normal Saline Fluid in Sepsis: The PRoMPT BOLUS Randomized Controlled Trial Pilot Feasibility Study. Acad Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;26(12):1346-1356. doi: 10.1111/acem.13815. Epub 2019 Jul 18. PMID: 31183919; PMCID: PMC7302266.

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