Hydroxyethyl starch and kidney function: A retrospective study in patients undergoing therapeutic plasma exchange

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Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) and albumin are used as replacement fluids during therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE). HES solutions are no longer recommended in critically ill patients due to its effect on kidneys and coagulation. In this retrospective study, we tried to look at the association between cumulative HES administration and kidney function in patients undergoing TPE.


Transfusion medicine department register was scrutinized to identify adult patients who had completed at least 5 cycles of TPE during the period June 2014–May 2015. Patient demographics, indication for TPE, amount of plasma removed, amount of colloid administered, adverse events and vascular access details were collected. Electronic hospital database was scrutinized to retrieve lab parameters, including blood urea and serum creatinine (before and after 5 cycles of TPE) and platelet count. Baseline renal parameters were compared with post TPE values using Wilcoxon signed rank test. A p value <0.05 was kept as significant.


Of the 593 patients who received TPE during the study period, 104 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Forty-five patients out of 104 received TPE in the intensive care unit. All patients received 2500 ml of HES during the study period. Blood urea and serum creatinine values, when compared to baseline, significantly decreased after 5 cycles of TPE (p = 0.004, p = 0.001, respectively).


Blood urea and serum creatinine, used as markers of renal function, improved in patients requiring multiple doses of HES solutions during TPE. Further studies using novel renal biomarkers are required to examine whether HES induces any structural damage to kidneys.

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