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The NHLBI halts study of concentrated saline for patients with shock due to lack of survival benefit

March 26, 2009

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health has stopped a clinical trial studying the benefits and safety of administering a highly concentrated form of saline solution in the ambulance (before hospital arrival) to trauma patients suffering from shock due to severe bleeding. The trial was stopped because patients who received the concentrated saline solutions were no more likely to survive than those who received a normal saline solution. A parallel study of concentrated saline for traumatic brain injury without shock continues.

Typically, in the crucial early minutes before blood transfusions can be safely administered in the hospital, trauma patients receive normal saline solution intravenously in the field to compensate for blood loss and buy time. Concentrated saline solution is believed to compensate for blood loss more effectively, lessen excessive inflammatory responses, and prevent brain swelling.

The trials of concentrated saline solutions are conducted through a network of clinical research sites in the United States and Canada called the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC). A major focus of the ROC is to conduct randomized trials of promising new treatments for severe traumatic injury in real-world settings. The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is a participating site in ROC.

More information is available on the NIH website.