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Revista chilena de pediatría

Print version ISSN 0370-4106


PACHECO V, SUZANNA et al. Albumin in the critically ill patient: myth or real therapeutics?. Rev. chil. pediatr. [online]. 2007, vol.78, n.4, pp.403-413. ISSN 0370-4106.

Under normal conditions, the plasmatic oncotic pressure is determined mainly by albumin. Numerous trials in critically ill patients have showed that hypoalbuminemia is associated to poor outcome. So, the administration of exogenous albumin is an attractive therapeutic strategy, widely spread in different clinical scenes. Nevertheless, its use has been questioned in the last period and up to date there is no clear evidence of the real effectiveness and/or utility. This article reviews the physiological and pathophysiological concepts that would justify the use of synthetic albumin. According to current literature, discussion about the rationality of its use in different pathological situations exists, trying to outline those clinical conditions that could or could not benefit with its administration. Certainly, clinical guidelines with recommendations about the benefits and indications of this therapy are required. Hypoalbuminemia in the critically ill patient is produced principally by redistribution, secondary to changes in capillary permeability: "transcapillary leakage". The crucial interrelation between osmotic plasmatic pressure and albumin concentration in healthy individuals is lost in several critical conditions. Agreements on indications for use of albumin have not been achieved, since in different clinical context (resuscitation, sepsis, post-surgical, burns, nephrotic syndrome, ARDS) there are no significant advantages in morbidity and mortality of critically ill patients, compared to other cristalloids or synthetic colloids used. It is extremely important to develop clinical guidelines with recommendations on benefits and indications for the use of albumin in critically ill patients

Keywords : albumin; oncotic pressure; capillary permeability; transcapillary leakage; sepsis; critically ill patient; children.

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