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In people with severe brain injuries, using saline instead of albumin to replenish fluid volumes doubles survival rates, new research suggests.


Researchers evaluated 24-month survival rates in 460 people with traumatic brain injuries. Of those patients, 231 had received albumin, which is the main protein component of blood, and 229 had received saline to replenish and maintain adequate fluid levels.


Two years after treatment, patients who'd received albumin had a 63% higher risk of dying than those who received saline. Among those with the most severe brain injuries, albumin use was linked to an 88% higher risk of death.


Researchers aren't sure why saline has an advantage over albumin, but the study validates what's already happened in practice: Most practitioners have stopped using albumin for fluid resuscitation in people with brain injuries.




SAFE Study Investigators, Saline or albumin for fluid resuscitation in patients with traumatic brain injury, The New England Journal of Medicine, August 30, 2007.