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Albumin versus crystalloid solutions in patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Christopher Uhlig1, Pedro L Silva12, Stefanie Deckert3, Jochen Schmitt3 and Marcelo Gama de Abreu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Pulmonary Engineering Group, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Therapy, University Hospital Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

2 Laboratory of Pulmonary Investigation, Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics Institute, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 Center for Evidence-based Healthcare, University Hospital Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany

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Critical Care 2014, 18:R10  doi:10.1186/cc13187

Published: 9 January 2014



In patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) fluid therapy might be necessary. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to determine the effects of colloid therapy compared to crystalloids on mortality and oxygenation in adults with ARDS.


Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified through a systematic literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL and LILACS. Articles published up to 15th February 2013 were independently screened, abstracted, and assessed (Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool) to provide evidence-based therapy recommendations. RCTs were eligible if they compared colloid versus crystalloid therapy on lung function, inflammation, damage or mortality in adults with ARDS. Primary outcome parameters were respiratory mechanics, gas exchange lung inflammation and damage as well as hospital mortality. Kidney function, need for renal replacement therapy, hemodynamic stabilization and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay served as secondary outcomes.


A total of 3 RCTs out of 4130 potential trials found in the databases were selected for qualitative and quantitative analysis totaling 206 patients who received either albumin or saline. Overall risk of bias was unclear to high in the identified trials. Calculated pooled risk of death was not statistically significant (albumin 34 of 100 (34.0%) versus 40 of 104 (38.5%), relative risk (RR) = 0.89, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62 to 1.28, P = 0.539). Weighted mean difference (WMD) in PaO2/FiO2 (mmHg) improved in the first 48 hours (WMD = 62, 95% CI 47 to 77, P <0.001, I2 = 0%) after therapy start and remained stable after 7 days (WMD = 20, 95% CI 4 to 36, P = 0.017, I2 = 0%).


There is a high need for RCTs investigating the effects of colloids in ARDS patients. Based on the findings of this review, colloid therapy with albumin improved oxygenation but did not affect mortality.