Intraoperative use of balanced crystalloids versus 0.9% saline: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The evidence regarding optimal crystalloid use in the perioperative period remains unclear. As the primary aim of this study, we sought to summarise the data from RCTs examining whether use of balanced crystalloids compared with 0.9% saline (saline) leads to differences in patient-important outcomes. METHODS: We searched Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane library, and, from inception until December 15, 2022, and included RCTs that intraoperatively randomised adult participants to receive either balanced fluids or saline. We pooled data using a random-effects model and present risk ratios (RRs) or mean differences (MDs), along with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We assessed individual study risk of bias using the modified Cochrane tool, and certainty of evidence using GRADE. RESULTS: Of 5959 citations, we included 38 RCTs (n=3776 patients). Pooled analysis showed that intraoperative use of balanced fluids compared with saline had an uncertain effect on postoperative mortality analysed at the longest point of follow-up (RR 1.51, 95% CI: 0.42-5.36) and postoperative need for renal replacement therapy (RR 0.95, 95% CI: 0.56-1.59), both very low certainty. Furthermore, use of balanced crystalloids probably leads to a higher postoperative serum pH (MD 0.05, 95% CI: 0.04-0.06), moderate certainty. CONCLUSIONS: Use of balanced crystalloids, compared with saline, in the perioperative setting has an uncertain effect on mortality and need for renal replacement therapy but probably improves postoperative acid-base status. Further research is needed to determine whether balanced crystalloid use affects patient-important outcomes. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: CRD42022367593.


  • Vignarajah, Muralie
  • Berg, Annie
  • Abdallah, Zahra
  • Arora, Naman
  • Javidan, Arshia
  • Pitre, Tyler
  • Fernando, Shannon M
  • Spence, Jessica
  • Centofanti, John
  • Rochwerg, Bram

publication date

  • September 2023