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No consensus exists regarding the optimal fluid (crystalloid or colloid) or strategy (liberal, restricted, or goal directed) for fluid management after colectomy. Prior assessments have used normal saline. This is the first assessment of standard, goal-directed perioperative fluid management with either lactated Ringer’s or hetastarch/lactated Ringer’s, with use of esophageal Doppler for guidance, in laparoscopic colectomy with an enhanced recovery protocol.A double-blinded, prospective, randomized, three-armed study with Institutional Review Board approval was used for patients undergoing laparoscopic segmental colectomy assigned to the standard, goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s and goal-directed/hetastarch groups. A standard anesthesia and basal fluid administration protocol was used in addition to the goal-directed strategies guided by esophageal Doppler.Sixty-four patients undergoing laparoscopic colectomy (22 standard, 21 goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s, 21 goal-directed/hetastarch) had similar operative times (standard, 2.3 hours; goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s, 2.5 hours; goal-directed/hetastarch, 2.3 hours). The lactated Ringer’s group received the greatest amount of total and milliliters per kilogram per hour of operative fluid (standard, 2,850/18; goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s, 3,800/23; and goal-directed/hetastarch, 3,300/17; P < 0.05). The hetastarch group had the longest stay (standard, 64.9 hours; goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s, 71.8 hours; goal-directed/hetastarch, 75.5 hours; P < 0.05). The standard group received the greatest amount of fluid during hospitalization (standard, 2.5 ml/kg/h; goal-directed/lactated Ringer’s, 1.9 ml/kg/h; goal-directed/hetastarch, 2.1 ml/kg/h; P < 0.05). There was one instance of operative mortality in the goal-directed/hetastarch group.Goal-directed fluid management with a colloid/balanced salt solution offers no advantage and is more costly. However, goal-directed, individualized intraoperative fluid management with crystalloid should be evaluated further as a component of enhanced recovery protocols following colectomy because of reduced overall fluid administration.