This is the first randomized, controlled, double-blind study comparing crystalloids with isotonic colloids in trauma. 0.9% saline was compared with hydroxyethyl starch, HES 130/0.4, as a resuscitation fluid in pre-defined subgroups of penetrating and blunt trauma. While a primary outcome measure of gastrointestinal recovery might not seem an obvious choice to some of us, previous research has indicated this to be an issue with crystalloid and the authors clearly defined this as a predefined outcome when registering the trial here.
Colloids tend to require smaller volumes than crystalloid to achieve the same degree of plasma expansion. An interesting finding in this study is that the volume of saline administered was 1.5 times that of hydroxyethyl starch – a very similar ratio to that seen in the SAFE study which compared saline with 4% albumin in intensive care patients.
The authors assert: “..the better lactate clearance in the P-HES group indicated superior tissue resuscitation with the colloid.” There are a number of reasons why this might be a bit of stretch, including the use of epinephrine in some patients which is known to be a cause of hyperlactataemia.
This is a small study whose conclusions should be treated with caution, but which provides an important contribution to the pool of fluid resuscitation literature. If you have full text access to the British Journal of Anaesthesia, the letters pages provide excellent critiques and responses regarding potential flaws in this paper. Nevertheless, it’s one to know about – I’m sure the FIRST trial is going to be quoted for some time to come, including, I suspect, by the manufacturers of certain colloids.
Background The role of fluids in trauma resuscitation is controversial. We compared resuscitation with 0.9% saline vs hydroxyethyl starch, HES 130/0.4, in severe trauma with respect to resuscitation, fluid volume, gastrointestinal recovery, renal function, and blood product requirements.
Methods Randomized, controlled, double-blind study of severely injured patients requiring>3 litres of fluid resuscitation. Blunt and penetrating trauma were randomized separately. Patients were followed up for 30 days.
Results A total of 115 patients were randomized; of which, 109 were studied. For patients with penetrating trauma (n=67), the mean (sd) fluid requirements were 5.1 (2.7) litres in the HES group and 7.4 (4.3) litres in the saline group (P<0.001). In blunt trauma (n=42), there was no difference in study fluid requirements, but the HES group required significantly more blood products [packed red blood cell volumes 2943 (1628) vs 1473 (1071) ml, P=0.005] and was more severely injured than the saline group (median injury severity score 29.5 vs 18; P=0.01). Haemodynamic data were similar, but, in the penetrating group, plasma lactate concentrations were lower over the first 4 h (P=0.029) and on day 1 with HES than with saline [2.1 (1.4) vs 3.2 (2.2) mmol litre−1; P=0.017]. There was no difference between any groups in time to recovery of bowel function or mortality. In penetrating trauma, renal injury occurred more frequently in the saline group than the HES group (16% vs 0%; P=0.018). In penetrating trauma, maximum sequential organ function scores were lower with HES than with saline (median 2.4 vs 4.5, P=0.012). No differences were seen in safety measures in the blunt trauma patients.
Conclusions In penetrating trauma, HES provided significantly better lactate clearance and less renal injury than saline. No firm conclusions could be drawn for blunt trauma.
Resuscitation with hydroxyethyl starch improves renal function and lactate clearance in penetrating trauma in a randomized controlled study: the FIRST trial (Fluids in Resuscitation of Severe Trauma)
Br J Anaesth. 2011 Nov;107(5):693-702