SAN ANTONIO – In massively transfused patients undergoing damage control laparotomy, postop hypertonic saline improves primary fascial closure rates at first take-back, according to investigators from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
After controlling for age, injury severity, and resuscitation volumes, primary fascial closure (PFC) at first take-back was almost four times as likely in patients who received hypertonic saline (HTS) after bleeding damage control laparotomy (DCL) instead of traditional isotonic maintenance fluids (odds ratio, 3.82; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-14.31; P = .047).
“In a group of seriously injured bleeding trauma patients undergoing DCL, the use of HTS was associated with a lower fluid balance and a higher rate of PFC at the first take-back,” the investigators concluded.
It’s unclear if the results are because of the hypertonic saline drawing off more edema fluid and making early PFC more likely, or because HTS patients in the study received less fluid than their standard maintenance peers – 30 cc/hr of 3% sodium chloride versus 125 cc/hr of traditional isotonic fluids post op.
PFC at first take-back is known to reduce complications. Previous studies have shown that HTS improves PFC rates, but they included moderately injured patients who would have been closed early no matter what postop fluids they received. The investigators wanted to see how well HTS worked in more severely injured patients.
The study compared 54 adult DCL patients from 2010 to 2011 who received traditional isotonic postop maintenance with 41 from 2013 to 2014 on HTS, both for 72 hours or until fascial closure, whichever came first. The university switched to HTS around 2012 based on earlier studies, allowing for the comparison. Patients in both groups received at least three RBC units during surgery, according to investigator Dr. Lindley Folkerson, a surgery resident at the university.
Twenty-seven HTS patients (66%) were closed at first take-back, versus 33 (61%) in the traditional maintenance group. The median time for closure was 29 hours in the HTS group but 38 hours in traditional maintenance patients (P = .035).
There were no between-group demographic or injury severity differences, but because the university has become more conservative with DCL in recent years, the HTS patients were more hypotensive and had greater baseline fluid deficits at emergency department arrival, and received more blood in the operating room. Even so, HTS patients had significantly lower fluid balances at 24 and 48 hours.
The university hasn’t noticed increased kidney injuries with lower-volume HTS, but that might prove to be a problem in a larger study, Dr. Folkerson said at the annual scientific assembly of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.
A limitation of the study is that patients were resuscitated as their physicians saw fit, so some in the HTS group likely got isotonic fluids. “We did not restrict fluids because they were on the HTS protocol. Crystalloid, colloid, and blood products were given as deemed necessary by the bedside physician,” she said.
The investigators had no disclosures.