A comparison of albumin and saline for fluid resuscitation in the intensive care unit

The SAFE Study Investigators

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Background: It remains uncertain whether the choice of resuscitation fluid for patients in intensive care units (ICUs) affects survival. We conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial to compare the effect of fluid resuscitation with albumin or saline on mortality in a heterogeneous population of patients in the ICU. Methods: We randomly assigned patients who had been admitted to the ICU to receive either 4 percent albumin or normal saline for intravascular-fluid resuscitation during the next 28 days. The primary outcome measure was death from any cause during the 28-day period after randomization. Results: Of the 6997 patients who underwent randomization, 3497 were assigned to receive albumin and 3500 to receive saline; the two groups had similar baseline characteristics. There were 726 deaths in the albumin group, as compared with 729 deaths in the saline group (relative risk of death, 0.99; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.91 to 1.09; P=0.87). The proportion of patients with new single-organ and multiple-organ failure was similar in the two groups (P=0.85). There were no significant differences between the groups in the mean (±SD) numbers of days spent in the ICU (6.5±6.6 in the albumin group and 6.2±6.2 in the saline group, P=0.44), days spent in the hospital (15.3±9.6 and 15.6±9.6, respectively; P=0.30), days of mechanical ventilation (4.5±6.1 and 4.3±5.7, respectively; P=0.74), or days of renal-replacement therapy (0.5±2.3 and 0.4±2.0, respectively; P=0.41). Conclusions: In patients in the ICU, use of either 4 percent albumin or normal saline for fluid resuscitation results in similar outcomes at 28 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2247-2256
Number of pages10
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2004


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