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Open Access Research article

Factors affecting pediatric isotonic fluid resuscitation efficiency: a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of syringe size

Greg Harvey1, Gary Foster23, Asmaa Manan1, Lehana Thabane1234 and Melissa J Parker15*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W. Room 3A, Hamilton, ON, Canada

2 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W., Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada

3 Biostatistics Unit,/FSORC, St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, 3rd floor Martha Wing, 50 Charlton Avenue East, Hamilton L8N 4A6, Canada

4 Department of Anesthesia, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W., Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada

5 Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, the Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2013, 13:14  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-13-14

Published: 24 July 2013



Goal-directed therapy guidelines for pediatric septic shock resuscitation recommend fluid delivery at speeds in excess of that possible through use of regular fluid infusion pumps. In our experience, syringes are commonly used by health care providers (HCPs) to achieve rapid fluid resuscitation in a pediatric fluid resuscitation scenario. At present, it is unclear which syringe size health care providers should use when performing fluid resuscitation to achieve maximal fluid resuscitation efficiency. The objective of this study was therefore to determine if an optimal syringe size exists for conducting manual pediatric fluid resuscitation.


This 48-participant parallel group randomized controlled trial included 4 study arms (10, 20, 30, 60 mL syringe size groups). Eligible participants were HCPs from McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton, Canada blinded to the purpose of the trial. Consenting participants were randomized using a third party technique. Following a standardization procedure, participants administered 900 mL (60 mL/kg) of isotonic saline to a simulated 15 kg child using prefilled provided syringes of the allocated size in rapid sequence. Primary outcome was total time to administer the 900 mL and this data was collected through video review by two blinded outcome assessors. Sample size was predetermined based upon a primary outcome analysis using one-way ANOVA.


12 participants were randomized to each group (n=48) and all completed trial protocol to analysis. Analysis was conducted according to intention to treat principles. A significant difference in fluid resuscitation time (in seconds) was found between syringe size group means: 10 mL, 563s [95% CI 521; 606]; 20 mL, 506s [95% CI 64; 548]; 30 mL, 454s [95% CI 412; 596]; 60 mL, 455s [95% CI 413; 497] (p<0.001).


The syringe size used when performing manual pediatric fluid resuscitation has a significant impact on fluid resuscitation speed, in a setting where fluid filled syringes are continuously available. Greatest efficiency was achieved with 30 or 60 mL syringes.

Trial registration, NCT01494116

Fluid therapy; Resuscitation; Shock; Pediatrics