Hyponatremia and neurocritical injury are life-threatening conditions requiring immediate management with consideration of the safety concerns related to peripheral intravenous administration of hypertonic solutions. Although a central intravenous catheter is the preferred route of administration, central intravenous catheters have many complications and can potentially delay medication administration in urgent situations.


To evaluate the safety and efficacy of continuous infusion of 3% hypertonic saline via peripheral intravenous administration in critically ill adult patients.


Data were collected from PubMed and Web of Science from database inception to April 7, 2019. Included studies involved adult patients with hyponatremia and/or neurocritical situations and compared administration of 3% hypertonic saline via peripheral administration with standard supportive care (administration through a central intravenous catheter).


Of 502 articles identified, 7 were included in the review. Three articles were retrospective studies, 2 were prospective studies, 1 was a case series, and 1 was a case report. Infusion-related adverse events and electrolyte abnormalities due to 3% hypertonic saline administration through a peripheral intravenous catheter were minimal and were limited to phlebitis, erythema, edema, hyperchloremia, and hypokalemia with administration at a high infusion rate (83.3 mL/h) and for a prolonged duration (≥ 6 hours). Infusion rate, duration, catheter gauge, and catheter placement may have a role in infusion-related adverse events.


Current recommendations to administer continuous infusions of 3% hypertonic saline through a central intravenous catheter should be reassessed. Peripheral intravenous administration can be used safely and effectively in patients in critical situations.

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