Hydroxyethyl Starch vs Saline

Another nail in the coffin of starch solutions for critical care patients was banged in by Prof Myburgh and colleagues who published the results of the CHEST randomised trial this week(1). 7000 Australasian ICU patients received either 6% HES (130/0.4) in 0.9% saline (HES group) or 0.9% saline (saline group). There was no difference in mortality but there was more renal dysfunction, rash, and pruritis in the HES group.

This can be combined with another recent starch vs crystalloid paper demonstrating adverse outcomes from starch(2) to make the case that there is no role for these pharmaceuticals in resuscitation or critical care.

1. Hydroxyethyl Starch or Saline for Fluid Resuscitation in Intensive Care
N Engl J Med. 2012 Oct 17. [Epub ahead of print] Free Full Text

Background The safety and efficacy of hydroxyethyl starch (HES) for fluid resuscitation have not been fully evaluated, and adverse effects of HES on survival and renal function have been reported.

Methods We randomly assigned 7000 patients who had been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) in a 1:1 ratio to receive either 6% HES with a molecular weight of 130 kD and a molar substitution ratio of 0.4 (130/0.4, Voluven) in 0.9% sodium chloride or 0.9% sodium chloride (saline) for all fluid resuscitation until ICU discharge, death, or 90 days after randomization. The primary outcome was death within 90 days. Secondary outcomes included acute kidney injury and failure and treatment with renal-replacement therapy.

Results A total of 597 of 3315 patients (18.0%) in the HES group and 566 of 3336 (17.0%) in the saline group died (relative risk in the HES group, 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96 to 1.18; P=0.26). There was no significant difference in mortality in six predefined subgroups. Renal-replacement therapy was used in 235 of 3352 patients (7.0%) in the HES group and 196 of 3375 (5.8%) in the saline group (relative risk, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.45; P=0.04). In the HES and saline groups, renal injury occurred in 34.6% and 38.0% of patients, respectively (P=0.005), and renal failure occurred in 10.4% and 9.2% of patients, respectively (P=0.12). HES was associated with significantly more adverse events (5.3% vs. 2.8%, P<0.001).

Conclusions In patients in the ICU, there was no significant difference in 90-day mortality between patients resuscitated with 6% HES (130/0.4) or saline. However, more patients who received resuscitation with HES were treated with renal-replacement therapy

2. Hydroxyethyl starch 130/0.42 versus Ringer’s acetate in severe sepsis
N Engl J Med. 2012 Jul 12;367(2):124-34

BACKGROUND: Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) [corrected] is widely used for fluid resuscitation in intensive care units (ICUs), but its safety and efficacy have not been established in patients with severe sepsis.

METHODS: In this multicenter, parallel-group, blinded trial, we randomly assigned patients with severe sepsis to fluid resuscitation in the ICU with either 6% HES 130/0.42 (Tetraspan) or Ringer’s acetate at a dose of up to 33 ml per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. The primary outcome measure was either death or end-stage kidney failure (dependence on dialysis) at 90 days after randomization.

RESULTS: Of the 804 patients who underwent randomization, 798 were included in the modified intention-to-treat population. The two intervention groups had similar baseline characteristics. At 90 days after randomization, 201 of 398 patients (51%) assigned to HES 130/0.42 had died, as compared with 172 of 400 patients (43%) assigned to Ringer’s acetate (relative risk, 1.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01 to 1.36; P=0.03); 1 patient in each group had end-stage kidney failure. In the 90-day period, 87 patients (22%) assigned to HES 130/0.42 were treated with renal-replacement therapy versus 65 patients (16%) assigned to Ringer’s acetate (relative risk, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.80; P=0.04), and 38 patients (10%) and 25 patients (6%), respectively, had severe bleeding (relative risk, 1.52; 95% CI, 0.94 to 2.48; P=0.09). The results were supported by multivariate analyses, with adjustment for known risk factors for death or acute kidney injury at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with severe sepsis assigned to fluid resuscitation with HES 130/0.42 had an increased risk of death at day 90 and were more likely to require renal-replacement therapy, as compared with those receiving Ringer’s acetate.