In this double-blind crossover study, the effects of bolus infusions of 0.9% saline (NaCl) and Hartmann's solution on serum albumin, haematocrit and serum and urinary biochemistry were compared in healthy subjects. Nine young adult male volunteers received 2-litre intravenous infusions of 0.9% saline and Hartmann's solution on separate occasions, in random order, each over 1h. Body weight, haematocrit and serum biochemistry were measured pre-infusion and at 1h intervals for 6h. Biochemical analysis was performed on pooled post-infusion urine. Blood and plasma volume expansion, estimated by dilutional effects on haematocrit and serum albumin, were greater and more sustained after saline than after Hartmann's solution (P<0.01). At 6h, body weight measurements suggested that 56% of the infused saline was retained, in contrast with only 30% of the Hartmann's solution. Subjects voided more urine (median: 1000 compared with 450ml) of higher sodium content (median: 122 compared with 73mmol) after Hartmann's than after saline (both P = 0.049), despite the greater sodium content of the latter. The time to first micturition was less after Hartmann's than after saline (median: 70 compared with 185min; P = 0.008). There were no significant differences between the effects of the two solutions on serum sodium, potassium, urea or osmolality. After saline, all subjects developed hyperchloraemia (>105mmol/l), which was sustained for >6h, while serum chloride concentrations remained normal after Hartmann's (P<0.001 for difference between infusions). Serum bicarbonate concentration was significantly lower after saline than after Hartmann's (P = 0.008). Thus excretion of both water and sodium is slower after a 2-litre intravenous bolus of 0.9% saline than after Hartmann's solution, due possibly to the more physiological [Na+]/[Cl-] ratio in Hartmann's solution (1.18:1) than in saline (1:1) and to the hyperchloraemia caused by saline.

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