OBJECTIVE - To assess the association of 0.9% saline use versus a calcium-free physiologically balanced crystalloid solution with major morbidity and clinical resource use after abdominal surgery.
BACKGROUND - 0.9% saline, which results in a hyperchloremic acidosis after infusion, is frequently used to replace volume losses after major surgery.
METHODS - An observational study using the Premier Perspective Comparative Database was performed to evaluate adult patients undergoing major open abdominal surgery who received either 0.9% saline (30,994 patients) or a balanced crystalloid solution (926 patients) on the day of surgery. The primary outcome was major morbidity and secondary outcomes included minor complications and acidosis-related interventions. Outcomes were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression and propensity scoring models.
RESULTS - For the entire cohort, the in-hospital mortality was 5.6% in the saline group and 2.9% in the balanced group (P < 0.001). One or more major complications occurred in 33.7% of the saline group and 23% of the balanced group (P < 0.001). In the 3:1 propensity-matched sample, treatment with balanced fluid was associated with fewer complications (odds ratio 0.79; 95% confidence interval 0.66-0.97). Postoperative infection (P = 0.006), renal failure requiring dialysis (P < 0.001), blood transfusion (P < 0.001), electrolyte disturbance (P = 0.046), acidosis investigation (P < 0.001), and intervention (P = 0.02) were all more frequent in patients receiving 0.9% saline.
CONCLUSIONS - Among hospitals in the Premier Perspective Database, the use of a calcium-free balanced crystalloid for replacement of fluid losses on the day of major surgery was associated with less postoperative morbidity than 0.9% saline.