Goal-directed fluid therapy in emergency abdominal surgery: a randomised multicentre trial

Anne A Aaen, Anders W Voldby, Nicolas Storm, Jeppe Kildsig, Egon G Hansen, Erik Zimmermann-Nielsen, Kenneth M Jensen, Pernille Tibæk, Anette Mortensen, Ann M Møller, Birgitte Brandstrup


BACKGROUND: More than 50% of patients have a major complication after emergency gastrointestinal surgery. Intravenous (i.v.) fluid therapy is a life-saving part of treatment, but evidence to guide what i.v. fluid strategy results in the best outcome is lacking. We hypothesised that goal-directed fluid therapy during surgery (GDT group) reduces the risk of major complications or death in patients undergoing major emergency gastrointestinal surgery compared with standard i.v. fluid therapy (STD group).

METHODS: In a randomised, assessor-blinded, two-arm, multicentre trial, we included 312 adult patients with gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation. Patients in the GDT group received i.v. fluid to near-maximal stroke volume. Patients in the STD group received i.v. fluid following best clinical practice. Postoperative target was 0-2 L fluid balance. The primary outcome was a composite of major complications or death within 90 days. Secondary outcomes were time in intensive care, time on ventilator, time in dialysis, hospital stay, and minor complications.

RESULTS: In a modified intention-to-treat analysis, we found no difference in the primary outcome between groups: 45 (30%) (GDT group) vs 39 (25%) (STD group) (odds ratio=1.24; 95% confidence interval, 0.75-2.05; P=0.40). Hospital stay was longer in the GDT group: median (inter-quartile range), 7 (4-12) vs 6 days (4-8.5) (P=0.04); no other differences were found.

CONCLUSION: Compared with pressure-guided i.v. fluid therapy (STD group), flow-guided fluid therapy to near-maximal stroke volume (GDT group) did not improve the outcome after surgery for bowel obstruction or gastrointestinal perforation but may have prolonged hospital stay.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: EudraCT number 2015-000563-14; the Danish Scientific Ethics Committee and the Danish Data Protection Agency (REG-18-2015).

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)521-531
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Abdomen/surgery
  • Aged
  • Critical Care/statistics & numerical data
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures/methods
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy/methods
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay/statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications/epidemiology
  • Stroke Volume
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


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