In 1984, Col. Ronald Bellamy launched a worldwide challenge to develop a new resuscitation fluid to aid survival after catastrophic blood loss on the battlefield. In 1996, after careful compromise among need, cube weight and efficacy, the US military and later coalition forces adopted 6% hetastarch (HES) fluids for early resuscitation. In the intervening years, evidence has amassed indicating that the HES fluids may not be safe, and in June 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that HES solutions should not be used to treat patients with hypovolaemia or the critically ill. We review the unique challenges of early battlefield resuscitation, why the ‘Bellamy challenge’ remains open and discuss a number of forward-looking strategies that may help to solve the problem. The first two pillars of resuscitation that we believe have not been adequately addressed are rescuing and stabilising the heart (and brain) and the vascular system. The ‘ideal’ resuscitation fluid needs to nurture the heart and body slowly back to health, and not ‘shock’ it a second time with unnatural colloids or large volumes of unphysiological saline-based solutions.
- Trauma Management
- Vascular Surgery
- Received July 8, 2013.
- Revision received August 30, 2013.
- Accepted September 6, 2013.
- Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions
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