A new plasma volume expander to treat and prevent serious hypovolemia received FDA approval in December. Voluven, which contains a synthetic starch in a colloidal solution, expands plasma volume when administered I.V.
Clinical trials comparing Voluven with Hespan, another starch-based plasma volume expander, suggest that Voluven is equally safe and effective. Tested in patients ranging in ages from less than 2 to 75, Voluven was found to be as safe as other blood volume expanders in patients undergoing various types of major surgery.
The most commonly reported adverse reactions were nausea and pruritis. Other potential problems include elevated serum amylase, hemodilution, and hypersensitivity reactions. Contraindications to the new drug include dialysis, renal failure with oliguria or anuria not related to hypovolemia, severe hypernatremia or hyperchloremia, fluid overload, intracranial hemorrage, and known hypersensitivity to hydroxyethyl starch.