Background: Colloid solutions are widely used in fluid resuscitation of critically ill patients. There are several choices of colloid and there is ongoing debate about the relative effectiveness of colloids compared to crystalloid fluids.
Objectives: To assess the effects of colloids compared to crystalloids for fluid resuscitation in critically ill patients.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register (searched 16 March 2012), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials 2011, issue 3 (The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE (Ovid) 1946 to March 2012, Embase (Ovid) 1980 to March 2012, ISI Web of Science: Science Citation Index Expanded (1970 to March 2012), ISI Web of Science: Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Science (1990 to March 2012), PubMed (searched 16 March 2012), www.clinical trials.gov and www.controlled-trials.com. We also searched the bibliographies of relevant studies and review articles.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of colloids compared to crystalloids, in patients requiring volume replacement. We excluded cross-over trials and trials in pregnant women and neonates.
Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently extracted data and rated quality of allocation concealment. We analysed trials with a 'double-intervention', such as those comparing colloid in hypertonic crystalloid to isotonic crystalloid, separately. We stratified the analysis according to colloid type and quality of allocation concealment.
Main results: We identified 74 eligible trials; 66 of these presented mortality data.Colloids compared to crystalloids Albumin or plasma protein fraction - 24 trials reported data on mortality, including a total of 9920 patients. The pooled relative risk (RR) from these trials was 1.01 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93 to 1.10). When we excluded the trial with poor quality allocation concealment, pooled RR was 1.00 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.09). Hydroxyethyl starch - 21 trials compared hydroxyethyl starch with crystalloids, n = 1385 patients. The pooled RR was 1.10 (95% CI 0.91 to 1.32). Modified gelatin - 11 trials compared modified gelatin with crystalloid, n = 506 patients. The pooled RR was 0.91 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.72). (When the trials by Boldt et al were removed from the three preceding analyses, the results were unchanged.) Dextran - nine trials compared dextran with a crystalloid, n = 834 patients. The pooled RR was 1.24 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.65).Colloids in hypertonic crystalloid compared to isotonic crystalloid Nine trials compared dextran in hypertonic crystalloid with isotonic crystalloid, including 1985 randomised participants. Pooled RR was 0.91 (95% CI 0.71 to 1.06).
Authors' conclusions: There is no evidence from RCTs that resuscitation with colloids reduces the risk of death, compared to resuscitation with crystalloids, in patients with trauma, burns or following surgery. As colloids are not associated with an improvement in survival, and as they are more expensive than crystalloids, it is hard to see how their continued use in these patients can be justified outside the context of RCTs.