Lower vs Higher Fluid Volumes During Initial Management of Sepsis: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis

Chest. 2020 Jun;157(6):1478-1496. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2019.11.050. Epub 2020 Jan 23.


Objective: IV fluids are recommended during the initial management of sepsis, but the quality of evidence is low, and clinical equipoise exists. We aimed to assess patient-important benefits and harms of lower vs higher fluid volumes in adult patients with sepsis.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis (TSA) of randomized clinical trials of IV fluid volume separation in adult patients with sepsis. We adhered to our published protocol; the Cochrane handbook; the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses; and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation statements. The primary outcomes were all-cause mortality, serious adverse events (SAEs), and quality of life.

Results: We included nine trials (n = 637); all were published after 2015 and had an overall high risk of bias. We found no statistically significant difference between lower vs higher fluid volumes in all-cause mortality (relative risk [RR], 0.87; 95% CI, 0.69-1.10; I2 = 0%; TSA-adjusted CI, 0.34-2.22) or SAEs (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.78-1.05; I2 = 0%; TSA-adjusted CI, 0.68-1.21). No trials reported on quality of life. We did not find differences in the secondary or exploratory outcomes. The quality of evidence was very low across all outcomes.

Conclusions: In this systematic review, we found very low quantity and quality of evidence supporting the decision on the volumes of IV fluid therapy in adults with sepsis.

Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT03668236; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Keywords: fluid therapy; intensive care; resuscitation; sepsis; septic shock.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03668236