Choosing the Right IV Fluids

As noted in previous posts, I tend to favor isotonic IV fluids due to risk of hyponatremia with hypotonic fluids. A new study (below) indicates that some isotonic fluids are associated with an increased risk of electrolyte disturbances. Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.

In this unblinded, randomized clinical trial with 614 children, participants were randomized to receive commercially available plasmalike isotonic fluid therapy (140 mmol/L of sodium and 5 mmol/L potassium in 5% dextrose) or moderately hypotonic fluid therapy (80 mmol/L sodium and 20 mmol/L potassium in 5% dextrose).

Key findings:

  • Clinically significant electrolyte disorder was more common in children receiving plasmalike isotonic fluid therapy:
    • Hypokalemia developed in 57 patients (19%) and hypernatremia developed in 4 patients (1.3%) receiving isotonic fluids; in total, this group had 61 of 308 patients [20%]) with electrolyte disturbance, compared with 9 of 306 patients [2.9%] of those receiving hypotonic fluid therapy (P < .001)
    • “Severe” hypokalemia (<3.0 mmol/L) was significantly more common in patients receiving isotonic fluid therapy 8 of 308 patients (2.6%) compared with 1 of 306 patients ( 0.3%) patients receiving hypotonic fluid therapy

My take: In the U.S., this suggests that fluids like lactated ringer’s which also has a low amount of potassium should not be routinely used. When choosing an isotonic fluid in children, D5 Normal Saline (0.9%) with added potassium may be more suitable..

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition