Early fluid requirements in trauma patients. A predictor of pulmonary failure and mortality

M. J. Vassar, J. Moore, C. A. Perry, J. Spisso, James W Holcroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The fluid required for initial resuscitation of trauma patients should reflect, at least in part, the severity of the original injuries and shock. We examined the hypothesis that the initial fluid requirements might also predict development of subsequent pulmonary failure and death. Fluid balances were calculated for the first 24 hours in the intensive care unit for 100 high-risk trauma patients. The mean (±1 SD) fluid balance for 63 patients who developed pulmonary failure was 4.6 ± 5.5 L; the mean balances for the 37 patients who did not develop pulmonary failure were 1.0 ± 3.1 L. The balances in 23 patients who died and in 77 who survived were 6.8 ± 5.4 and 2.2 ± 4.5 L, respectively. A cutoff value of 3 L determined prospectively before beginning the study predicted pulmonary failure with a sensitivity of 52% and a specificity of 89%. For mortality, the 3-L cutoff point gave a sensitivity of 74% and a specificity of 74%. The predictive value of the fluid balance was independent of other prognostic indicators such as revised trauma scores, injury Severity Scores, and modified APACHE II scores. This simple measurement should help in allocating intensive care unit resources, as patients in positive fluid balance are likely to require Swan-Ganz catheteritzation and are likely to require long-term mechanical ventilation. The fluid balance should also be useful in stratifying patients for entry into clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1156
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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