PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Resuscitation with hydroxyethyl starch (HES) is controversial. In this review, we will present the current evidence for the use of HES solutions including data from recent high-quality randomized clinical trials. RECENT FINDINGS: Meta-analyses of HES vs. control fluids show clear signals of harm including adverse effects on kidney and haemostatic function, and trends towards increased mortality. These results are mainly based on recent large randomized clinical trials comparing tetrastarch (HES 130/0.4 and HES 130/0.42) vs. crystalloid in patients in the ICU. Trials in trauma and surgical patients cannot adequately assess safety issues and do not show clear benefit with the use of HES. There is currently no firm evidence that tetrastarch has better safety profile than the former HES solutions. SUMMARY: There is no evidence for an overall beneficial effect of HES in any subgroup of critically ill patients, but there are clear signs of harm. As safer alternatives exist, we recommend that HES is no longer used in critically ill patients.
Current Opinion in Critical Care, 2013, Vol 19, Issue 4, p. 321-325