Key messages

• The colloid osmotic pressure is that pressure which must be exerted on a colloid solution to prevent any net movement of solvent across a semipermeable membrane.

• Colloid osmotic pressure is dependent on the concentration of solution, the effects of electrically charged colloid molecules on the small ions in the solvent, the effective increase in concentration of solution by the space taken up by large molecules, and other intermolecular interactions.

• In practice, any patient with edema and intravascular hypovolemia needs colloid; raising plasma colloid osmotic pressure is desirable but not always attainable.

• A high plasma colloid osmotic pressure may defer recovery from acute renal failure.

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