Hypertonic saline reduces intracranial hypertension in the presence of high serum and cerebrospinal fluid osmolalities

Eduardo Paredes-Andrade, Craig A. Solid, Sarah B. Rockswold, Rick M. Odland, Gaylan L. Rockswold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Osmotherapy has been the cornerstone in the management of patients with elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Several studies have demonstrated that hypertonic saline (HTS) is a safe and effective osmotherapy agent. This study evaluated the effectiveness of HTS in reducing intracranial hypertension in the presence of a wide range of serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) osmolalities. Methods Forty-two doses of 23.4% saline boluses for treatment of refractory intracranial hypertension were reviewed retrospectively. Thirty milliliters of 23.4% NaCl was infused over 15 min for intracranial hypertension, defined as ICP >20 mmHg. The CSF and serum osmolalities from frozen stored samples were measured with an osmometer. The values of serum sodium, hourly ICP, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine were obtained directly from the medical records. Results The serum and CSF osmolalities correlated very closely to serum sodium (r > 0.9, P < 0.0001). The reduction in ICP from the baseline (measured from either the mean ICP or the lowest ICP measurement in the first 6 h after bolus HTS treatment) was statistically significant regardless of serum osmolality. The mean reduction from baseline to follow-up values was 8.8 mm Hg (P < 0.0001). The decrease in ICP was as evident with serum osmolalities >320 as it was at <320. Conclusion This study demonstrates that 23.4% HTS bolus is effective for the reduction of elevated ICP in patients with severe TBI even in the presence of high serum and CSF osmolalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalNeurocritical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Cerebrospinal fluid osmolality
  • Hypertonic saline
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Osmotherapy
  • Serum osmolality
  • Traumatic brain injury


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