JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) versus other fluid therapies: effects on kidney function

Allison B Dart, Thomas C Mutter, Chelsea A Ruth, Shayne P Taback
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010 January 20, (1): CD007594
20091640

BACKGROUND: Hydroxyethyl starches (HES) are synthetic colloids commonly used for fluid resuscitation, yet controversy exists about their impact on kidney function.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the effects of HES on kidney function compared to other fluid resuscitation therapies in different patient populations.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Renal Group's specialised register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, in The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, EMBASE, MetaRegister and reference lists of articles.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs in which HES was compared to an alternate fluid therapy for the prevention or treatment of effective intravascular volume depletion. Primary outcomes were renal replacement therapy (RRT), author-defined kidney failure and acute kidney injury (AKI) as defined by the RIFLE criteria. Secondary outcomes included serum creatinine and creatinine clearance.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Screening, selection, data extraction and quality assessments for each retrieved article were carried out by two authors using standardised forms. Authors were contacted when published data were incomplete. Preplanned sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed after data were analysed with a random effects model.

MAIN RESULTS: The review included 34 studies (2607 patients). Overall, the RR of author-defined kidney failure was 1.50 (95% CI 1.20 to 1.87; n = 1199) and 1.38 for requiring RRT (95% CI 0.89 to 2.16; n = 1236) in HES treated individuals compared with other fluid therapies. Subgroup analyses suggested increased risk in septic patients compared to non-septic (surgical/trauma) patients. Non-septic patient studies were smaller and had lower event rates, so subgroup differences may have been due to lack of statistical power in these studies. Only limited data was obtained for analysis of kidney outcomes by the RIFLE criteria. Overall, methodological quality of studies was good but subjective outcomes were potentially biased because most studies were unblinded.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Potential for increased risk of AKI should be considered when weighing the risks and benefits of HES for volume resuscitation, particularly in septic patients. Large studies with adequate follow-up are required to evaluate the renal safety of HES products in non-septic patient populations. RIFLE criteria should be applied to evaluate kidney function in future studies of HES and, where data is available, to re-analyse those studies already published. There is inadequate clinical data to address the claim that safety differences exist between different HES products.

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