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Fluid overload and changes in serum creatinine after cardiac surgery: predictors of mortality and longer intensive care stay. A prospective cohort study

Anna Stein12*, Lucas Vieira de Souza1, Cassian Rodrigues Belettini1, Willian Roberto Menegazzo1, Júlio Rosales Viégas1, Edemar Manuel Costa Pereira1, Renato Eick1, Lilian Araújo1, Fernanda Consolim-Colombo34 and Maria Cláudia Irigoyen23

Author Affiliations

1 Intensive Care Unit, Instituto de Cardiologia do Rio Grande do Sul/Fundação Universitária de Cardiologia (IC/FUC), Princesa Isabel av 395, Porto Alegre, 90620-001, Brazil

2 Nephrology Division, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sena Madureira st 1500, São Paulo, 04021-001, Brazil

3 Hypertension Unit, Heart Institute (INCOR), Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar av 44, São Paulo, 05403-900, Brazil

4 Medical Pos Graduate Program, Nove de Julho University, Vergueiro st 249, São Paulo, 01504-001, Brazil

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Critical Care 2012, 16:R99  doi:10.1186/cc11368

Published: 31 May 2012



Fluid overload is a clinical problem frequently related to cardiac and renal dysfunction. The aim of this study was to evaluate fluid overload and changes in serum creatinine as predictors of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity after cardiac surgery.


Patients submitted to heart surgery were prospectively enrolled in this study from September 2010 through August 2011. Clinical and laboratory data were collected from each patient at preoperative and trans-operative moments and fluid overload and creatinine levels were recorded daily after cardiac surgery during their ICU stay. Fluid overload was calculated according to the following formula: (Sum of daily fluid received (L) - total amount of fluid eliminated (L)/preoperative weight (kg) × 100). Preoperative demographic and risk indicators, intra-operative parameters and postoperative information were obtained from medical records. Patients were monitored from surgery until death or discharge from the ICU. We also evaluated the survival status at discharge from the ICU and the length of ICU stay (days) of each patient.


A total of 502 patients were enrolled in this study. Both fluid overload and changes in serum creatinine correlated with mortality (odds ratio (OR) 1.59; confidence interval (CI): 95% 1.18 to 2.14, P = 0.002 and OR 2.91; CI: 95% 1.92 to 4.40, P <0.001, respectively). Fluid overload played a more important role in the length of intensive care stay than changes in serum creatinine. Fluid overload (%): b coefficient = 0.17; beta coefficient = 0.55, P <0.001); change in creatinine (mg/dL): b coefficient = 0.01; beta coefficient = 0.11, P = 0.003).


Although both fluid overload and changes in serum creatinine are prognostic markers after cardiac surgery, it seems that progressive fluid overload may be an earlier and more sensitive marker of renal dysfunction affecting heart function and, as such, it would allow earlier intervention and more effective control in post cardiac surgery patients.