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Intravenous infusion of sterile water for the treatment of hypernatraemia

Intensive Care Unit, Manning Base Hospital, Taree, New South Wales


Little research has been carried out into the infusion of intravenous sterile water for the treatment of hypernatraemia, and it remains a contentious issue. We conducted a review of the literature and extract results following an extensive search of Medline 1946, Embase 1974, ProQuest, evidence-based practice resources, national and international guideline sites and the publications of various professional bodies. The review is presented on the infusion of sterile water (hypotonic fluid) to lower serum sodium level in those circumstances when enteral supplementation of water is not possible, such as in postoperative patients or when other isotonic fluids (such as 5% dextrose in water infusion) are less than ideal—for example, hyperglycaemic patients on an insulin infusion. Absence of guidelines has limited the use of sterile water, even as an off-label drug when it can be administered relatively safely via a central line.

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