The Most Reliable Estimate of Fluid Balance: Ranking the Top Method

Choose the estimate you think is the most reliable!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 4, 2023 09:54)
Welcome to StrawPoll, where opinions matter and curiosity thrives! Get ready to dive into the world of fluid balance and cast your vote on "What is the most reliable estimate of fluid balance?" With thousands of polls and rankings covering a plethora of topics, we're excited to host this intriguing debate. Our carefully curated list features diverse options, but if you think we're missing a crucial one, feel free to suggest it! Engage with fellow enthusiasts, debate the merits of each option, and shape the outcome of this fascinating ranking. Join us now and let your voice be heard as we explore the depths of fluid balance estimations, and remember - every drop counts!

What Is the Most Reliable Estimate of Fluid Balance?

  1. 1
    Urine output is a reliable indicator of fluid balance as it reflects the amount of fluids being excreted from the body.
    Urine output is a measure used to assess fluid balance in the body. It refers to the amount of urine produced over a specific period of time, usually measured in milliliters per hour or day.
    • Measurement Units: Milliliters per hour or day
    • Normal Range: 800-2000 ml/day for adults
    • Factors Affecting Urine Output: Fluid intake, kidney function, medications, medical conditions
    • Assessment Significance: Indicates hydration status and kidney function
    • Importance in Medical Practice: Used to monitor fluid balance in critically ill patients, evaluate kidney function, and assess response to therapy
  2. 2
    Changes in body weight can be used to estimate fluid balance, as an increase in weight may indicate fluid retention.
    Body weight is a commonly used measure to assess fluid balance in the body. It refers to the total weight of a person, including all the tissues, fluids, and organs. Body weight can provide valuable information about changes in fluid status and can be used to estimate fluid gains or losses.
    • Unit of Measurement: Kilograms
    • Accuracy: Depends on the weighing scale used
    • Sensitivity: Depends on the scale's precision
    • Measurement Frequency: Varies depending on the clinical scenario
    • Interpretation: Needs to be considered in conjunction with other clinical parameters
  3. 3
    Serum electrolyte levels such as sodium, potassium, and chloride can be used to determine fluid balance, as the balance of these electrolytes is closely linked to fluid balance.
    Serum electrolyte levels are a reliable measure of fluid balance and help assess the body's electrolyte status. Electrolytes are substances that conduct electricity when dissolved in water, and they play a vital role in various bodily functions. Measuring the levels of these electrolytes in the serum provides valuable information about the body's hydration status and electrolyte balance. Changes in serum electrolyte levels can indicate conditions such as dehydration, overhydration, electrolyte imbalances, kidney dysfunction, and hormonal disorders.
    • Sodium (Na+): Normal range: 135-145 mEq/L
    • Potassium (K+): Normal range: 3.5-5.0 mEq/L
    • Chloride (Cl-): Normal range: 96-106 mEq/L
    • Bicarbonate (HCO3-): Normal range: 22-28 mEq/L
    • Calcium (Ca2+): Normal range: 8.5-10.2 mg/dL
  4. 4

    Blood pressure

    Stephen Hales
    Blood pressure can be used to estimate fluid balance, as a decrease in blood pressure may indicate hypovolemia or dehydration.
    Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries as it circulates through the body. It is an important indicator of cardiovascular health and can provide information about the function and condition of the heart and blood vessels.
    • Unit of Measurement: millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
    • Systolic Pressure: the highest pressure in the arteries during a heartbeat
    • Diastolic Pressure: the lowest pressure in the arteries between heartbeats
    • Ideal Blood Pressure: below 120/80 mmHg
    • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): 140/90 mmHg or higher
    Blood pressure in other rankings
  5. 5
    Skin turgor can be used to estimate fluid balance, as decreased skin turgor may indicate dehydration.
    Skin turgor is a clinical assessment of the elasticity or tension of the skin, commonly used to evaluate fluid balance. It involves gently pinching and lifting a fold of skin, typically on the back of the hand or forearm, and observing how well the skin returns to its normal position.
    • Clinical utility: Skin turgor is a quick and non-invasive method to assess fluid balance in patients.
    • Dehydration indicator: Decreased skin turgor may indicate dehydration or fluid loss.
    • Elasticity measurement: The degree of skin's elasticity is observed and rated as normal, slightly decreased, or significantly decreased.
    • Affected by age: The skin naturally loses some of its elasticity with age, so skin turgor may be less reliable in elderly individuals.
    • Temperature influence: Cold temperatures can temporarily decrease skin turgor, while warm temperatures can slightly increase it.
  6. 6

    Central venous pressure

    William Harvey
    Central venous pressure can be used to estimate fluid balance, as it reflects the pressure in the veins that return blood to the heart.
    Central venous pressure (CVP) is the measurement of the blood pressure in the central veins, specifically the right atrium of the heart. It provides important information about the fluid status and volume status of the patient.
    • Location: Right atrium of the heart
    • Normal Range: 2-6 mmHg
    • Measurement Units: mmHg
    • Method of Measurement: Directly through a central venous catheter
    • Clinical Significance: Indicates fluid balance and can help diagnose conditions such as hypovolemia or fluid overload
  7. 7
    Capillary refill time can be used to estimate fluid balance, as it reflects the time it takes for capillaries to refill with blood after they have been compressed.
    Capillary refill time (CRT) is a clinical test used to assess peripheral perfusion and estimate fluid balance. It measures the time it takes for blanched capillaries to return to their normal color after pressure is applied and then released on a distal peripheral site, usually the nail bed of a finger.
    • Purpose: To assess peripheral perfusion and estimate fluid balance
    • Procedure: Apply pressure to a distal peripheral area (typically the nail bed) until it blanches. Release pressure and measure the time it takes for the normal color to return.
    • Normal Range: Less than 2 seconds
    • Interpretation: Prolonged capillary refill time (>2 seconds) may indicate poor peripheral perfusion and potential hypovolemia.
    • Use: Primarily used in emergency medicine, pediatrics, and critical care settings.
  8. 8
    Bioelectrical impedance analysis can be used to estimate fluid balance, as it measures the body's electrical resistance to an electrical current, which is influenced by the amount of fluid in the body.
    Bioelectrical impedance analysis is a non-invasive method used to estimate body composition, including fluid balance. It works by measuring the resistance of electrical current as it passes through the body, which is influenced by the amount and distribution of fat, muscle, and water. By analyzing these measurements, BIA can provide an estimate of fluid balance in the body.
    • Non-invasive: Yes
    • Measurement Method: Bioelectrical impedance
    • Body Composition Analysis: Yes
    • Estimation of Fluid Balance: Yes
    • Resistance Measurement: Yes
  9. 9

    Hemodynamic monitoring

    Werner Forssmann
    Hemodynamic monitoring can be used to estimate fluid balance, as it involves measuring various parameters such as cardiac output, pulmonary artery pressure, and systemic vascular resistance, which are all affected by fluid balance.
    Hemodynamic monitoring is a medical technique used to assess the function and status of the cardiovascular system. It involves measuring various parameters related to blood flow, pressure, and volume to provide valuable information about cardiac output, tissue perfusion, and fluid balance.
    • Invasive vs. Non-invasive: Can be either invasive (involves insertion of catheters or probes into blood vessels) or non-invasive (relies on external sensors and devices)
    • Parameters measured: Includes cardiac output, blood pressure, central venous pressure, pulmonary artery pressure, arterial oxygen saturation, mixed venous oxygen saturation
    • Fluid balance assessment: Provides information about fluid status, volume depletion, fluid responsiveness, and effectiveness of fluid resuscitation
    • Indications: Used in critical care settings, during surgeries, in septic patients, and when managing patients with cardiac or kidney dysfunction
    • Continuous monitoring: Allows real-time assessment and dynamic changes in hemodynamic parameters
  10. 10

    Clinical assessment

    Medical professionals
    Clinical assessment by a healthcare professional can be used to estimate fluid balance, as they can evaluate various signs and symptoms such as dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, and decreased urine output, which may indicate dehydration or fluid overload.
    Clinical assessment is a method used to estimate fluid balance by analyzing various clinical indicators and patient history.
    • Indicators used: Blood pressure, heart rate, urine output, skin turgor, mucous membrane moisture, and mental status
    • Patient history considered: Fluid intake, output, and changes in weight
    • Assessment frequency: Regular monitoring throughout the patient's stay
    • Importance of accuracy: Assessment should be as accurate as possible to guide appropriate intervention
    • Limitations: Dependent on subjective interpretation and patient cooperation

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Ranking factors for reliable estimate

  1. Sensitivity of measurement techniques
    The measurement techniques used to estimate fluid balance should be sensitive enough to detect small changes in fluid status.
  2. Patient factors
    The patient’s medical history and condition should also be taken into account. For example, a patient with edema may require more sophisticated measurement techniques to accurately estimate fluid balance.
  3. Timeframe
    The timeframe for fluid balance estimation should also be considered, as some measurement techniques may be more appropriate for short-term monitoring while others may be better suited for long-term monitoring.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most reliable estimate of fluid balance. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or estimate is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 156 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each estimate once every 24 hours. The rank of each estimate is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most reliable estimate of fluid balance

Fluid balance is a crucial indicator of overall health and well-being. It refers to the equilibrium between the intake and output of fluids in the body. Maintaining an optimal fluid balance is essential for the proper functioning of vital organs and systems such as the heart, kidneys, and brain. Accurately estimating fluid balance is essential in various medical settings, including critical care, surgery, and general patient care. Several methods are commonly used to estimate fluid balance, including clinical assessment, urine output measurement, and laboratory tests. Of these methods, laboratory tests, such as serum electrolyte measurement and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) testing, are considered the most reliable. These tests can provide a quantitative assessment of fluid balance and are particularly useful in critically ill patients who require precise monitoring and management of fluid levels. While clinical assessment and urine output measurement can provide valuable information about fluid balance, they are often subjective and may not be as accurate as laboratory tests. Therefore, healthcare professionals must use a combination of methods to estimate fluid balance accurately and ensure optimal patient outcomes.

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