Physician, know thy fluids! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So I posted a quick poll on, a really upcoming physician site, with the intent of getting an idea of what people use as fluids and what they know about them.


The first question was “What is your fluid of choice for resuscitation?”

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…no big surprise, 61% choose NS.  Despite the evidence of increased renal dysfunction (JAMA 2012 – I posted about this here:

Well, at least this is chosen with good knowledge of its pharmacological properties, right?

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Hmmm… 57% peg it as physiological or basic.  Only 9% get it right. The pH is 5.6 or so.

So here we have favorite medication used by a lot of people, who use a lot of it, usually in quite ill patients, often acidotic, and who are not aware that the pH is in fact also quite acidotic.

I think it just is an important example on how we need to treat fluids as medications, and not think of them as benign interventions, and by doing so, we’d feel much more obliged to look at what we are giving in terms of composition and quantity, rather than the debonair attitude we have mostly grown up with.







Enteral Fluid Resuscitation (EFR): Third-world medicine in the modern ED/ICU? (ORT part 2) – #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.15.16 PM Enteral Fluid Resuscitation in the ER/ICU? For those who did’t come across it, part 1 of this series can be found here: So back to bringing the basics back to our ultra-tech world… Can I actually use this field technique in my bright and shiny ICU? Can I use oral hydration as a cutting edge therapy in my life-and-death patients? Sounds strange. Sounds like I should be using a precise device which lets me know exactly how much fluid has gone into my vascular space, because that’s where I want it to go, and I want to control exactly the composition of my serum electrolytes, etc, etc.  We like to control. But do we really? We actually have absolutely no idea how much of a fluid bolus remains intravascularly, in any one patient.  It will depend on his/her pre-existing venous filling, his serum protein levels, the integrity of the glycocalyx, and probably a few more things we don’t even know yet.  And as I rapidly distend atria, I release ANP which damages my glycocalyx further. Hmmm… As I mentioned in the last post, the only way fluid enters our vascular space is via the endothelial cells at the level of the GI tract for the most part. All “venous access” is iatrogenic. I do believe that the endothelial cells, by and large, will do a better job – in concert with the kidneys and rest of the blood cells – of controlling the plasma than we will, if given the chance. What logically follows is that, in the presence of a functional gut, I can consider using Enteral Fluid Resuscitation – that is, giving fluid for hemodynamic purposes, not just “maintenance,” by an enteral tube of some sort. So what could I give?   What’s in it? The current reduced osmolarity WHO/UNICEF formula contains approximately the following: Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.24.28 PM So, lets take a closer look at the players: 75 mmol/l of sodium, 75 mmol/l glucose, some potassium and the rest basically to balance the electroneutrality. The whole thing hinges on the glucose-sodium cotransporter, which drags sodium and water in along with the “desired” glucose.  Optimal water absorption takes place with Na between 40-90 mmol/l, glucose 110-140 mmol/l, and an osmolality around 290.  A higher Na may cause some hypernatremia, and a higher osmolality may result in water loss. Here is our friend the enterocyte illustrating just how this kind of solution will allow sodium absorption: Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.31.54 PM   Do-it-Yourself Enteral Fluid Resuscitation Solution: So I’ve got a neat DIY option if I don’t want to break out the powder and start mixing in the middle of my unit: 0.45% or 1/2 NS plus 30 ml of of D50 would give us Na 77, Cl 77 and glucose 74, with an osmolality of 228. Pretty close. That’s what I’ve been using. How much? Well, I like the slow and gradual. Some of the rehydration data out there supports some pretty huge amount of fluids, but this has been done mostly in healthy but dehydrated athletes – not the case for most of our patients. I’ve been going with 250ml every 1-2h, as – for now – an adjunct to IV fluid therapy. This is conservative and completely arbitrary, but essentially a glass every hour or two certainly doesn’t seem excessively taxing. Who can I give this to? You do need a functional gut, so for now, my criteria are (1) essentially normal abdominal exam, (2) obviously no recent bowel surgery, (3) a patent and functional gut as far as I know, (4) no ultrasound evidence of ileus or gastric distension. But how can I be sure it’s going in the right place?  I can’t. Just like I can’t be sure my IV fluids are staying in the right place. But I do check – IVC ultrasound (gross but better than skin turgor!), urine output, HR, BP, etc. None of those are perfect as they are all multifactorial, but that is the nature of the game. The other thing I check is gastric distension by bedside ultrasound every couple of hours – obviously, if I’m just getting a fluid filled stomach, there’s no point, and eventually harm may ensue. When should I stop? Whenever you clinically decide you don’t need/want any further fluid resuscitation. As far as I am concerned, might as well stop the IV infusions first and have the enteral going after – in the end, you are hoping your patient will go back to drinking and not require a PICC line for discharge, aren’t you?  So you stop when the patient does it on his or her own. I’d really like to know if anyone out there is doing something like this. It would be great to compare notes and evolution. Drop a line!   cheers, Philippe

Lung Ultrasound Day for Internists 2015: ASMIQ/CCUS, Montreal, May 29th 2015.

In collaboration with the Quebec Association of Internal Medicine Specialists (ASMIQ), and featuring none other than Dr. Daniel Lichtenstein (the original pioneer of bedside ultrasound and the first to truly do and develop lung ultrasound), we’ve put together a really good day of lectures and workshops. As a bonus, my good friend Dr. Haney Mallemat (@criticalcarenow) will be giving us a hand with workshops and maybe even a special lecture! Take a look:

ASMIQ 2015 Lung US Program

This takes place in Montreal, at Santa Cabrini Hospital, and places are limited, so anyone interested should register promptly at

Do note that most lectures will be in french!




Musings with Jon-Emile & Philippe – Fluid Resuscitation: Physiology and Philosophy! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So here, Jon-Emile and I explore a topic I’ve posted about before ( so I can see if a master physiologist agrees with my rationale (…not just my rationale but supported by a ton of literature many choose to overlook!).

Please visit for Jon’s awesome physiology tutorials!

Love to hear listeners’ thoughts!




Musings with Jon-Emile & Philippe 2: Putting Jon on the Spot!!! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So in this second instalment, I put Jon-Emile on the spot about some common clinical scenarios which, to me, contain a bit of dogma. Let’s see if physiology will give us the bottom line!


I think these are actually really important, because just too many times, I hear people automatically saying that in RV infarct, the patients need a lot of fluids, and in PE and tamponade as well.  I’m not so sure that’s always true, so I thought it would be a good idea to review this physiology with s real pro!


enjoy, and love to hear some comments!