Time to resuscitate a sacred cow... with normal saline

James S. Davis, Salman Alsafran, Cheryl D. Richie, Joshua W. Moore, Nicholas Namias, Carl I. Schulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Normal saline (NS) is not used for trauma resuscitation because of its potential for acidosis. Lactated Ringer's (LR) is preferred instead. However, the two crystalloids have never been compared in trauma patients. We hypothesized that NS would be an acceptable fluid for resuscitation in the trauma patient. In 2011, a Level I trauma center switched resuscitation fluid from LR to NS. Admissions before and after the change were retrospectively reviewed. Demographics, vitals, blood work, and fluid intake were recorded over 24 hours. Acidosis level, stratified by Injury Severity Score (ISS), was compared. Four hundred ten patients were included, 207 in the LR cohort and 203 in the NS. Chloride (LR 105.26 ± 4.75 vs NS 106.48 ± 4.19), base excess (-2.53 ± 3.77 vs -3.28 ± 4.15), pH (7.37 ± 0.08 vs 7.36 ± 0.07), and bicarbonate (22.83 ± 3.45 vs 21.65 ± 5.06) were statistically different but not clinically significant. This was also true when results were stratified by ISS. In addition, there was no difference in the number of blood gases drawn between the groups (584 vs 544, P = nonsignificant). NS resuscitation is a safe, viable alternative to LR in the trauma population studied. Its use carries a potentially substantial cost savings on a national level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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