Use of albumin: an update

Br J Anaesth. 2010 Mar;104(3):276-84. doi: 10.1093/bja/aep393. Epub 2010 Jan 24.


Human albumin (HA) is widely used for volume replacement or correction of hypoalbuminaemia. The value of HA in the clinical setting continues to be controversial, and it is unclear whether in today's climate of cost consciousness, there is still a place for such a highly priced substance. It is therefore appropriate to update our knowledge of the value of HA. With the exception of women in early pregnancy, there appears to be few indications for the use of HA to correct hypovolaemia. Some studies of traumatic brain injury and intensive care patients suggest negative effects on outcome and organ function of (hyperoncotic) HA. Modern synthetic colloids appear to be a cheaper alternative for maintaining colloid oncotic pressure. The value of using HA to correct hypoalbuminaemia has not been clearly justified. Theoretical and pharmacological benefits of HA, such as oxygen radical scavenging or binding of toxic substances, have not as yet been shown to have beneficial clinical consequences. Experimental data from cell lines or animals do not appear to mimic the clinical setting. Convincing data justifying the use of HA either for treating hypovolaemia or for correcting hypoalbuminaemia are still lacking. A restricted use of HA is recommended.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Contraindications
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypoalbuminemia / therapy
  • Hypovolemia / therapy
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Serum Albumin / physiology
  • Serum Albumin / therapeutic use*


  • Serum Albumin