Intravenous Solutions are used in fluid replacement therapy by changing the composition of the serum by adding fluids and electrolytes. Listed below is a table which may serve as your quick reference guide on the different intravenous solutions.

You can also download the document at: IV Solution Cheat Sheet.docx

Type Description Osmolality Use Miscellaneous
Normal Saline (NS) 0.9% NaCl in Water Crystalloid Solution Isotonic (308 mOsm) Increases circulating plasma volume when red cells are adequate
  • Replaces losses without altering fluid concentrations.
  • Helpful for Na+ replacement
1/2 Normal Saline (1/2 NS) 0.45% NaCl in Water Crystalloid Solution Hypotonic (154 mOsm) Raises total fluid volume
  • Useful for daily maintenance of body fluid, but is of less value for replacement of NaCldeficit.
  • Helpful for establishing renal function.
  • Fluid replacement for clients who don’t need extra glucose (diabetics)
Lactated Ringer’s (LR) Normal saline with electrolytes and buffer Isotonic (275 mOsm) Replaces fluid and buffers pH
  • Normal saline with K+, Ca++, and lactate (buffer)
  • Often seen with surgery
D5W Dextrose 5% in water Crystalloid solution Isotonic (in the bag) *Physiologically hypotonic (260 mOsm) Raises  total fluid volume.Helpful in rehydrating and excretory purposes.
  • Provides 170-200 calories/1,000cc for energy.
  • Physiologically hypotonic -the dextrose is metabolized quickly so that only water remains – a hypotonic fluid
D5NS Dextrose 5% in 0.9% saline Hypertonic (560 mOsm) Replaces fluid sodium, chloride, and calories.
  • Watch for fluid volume overload
D5 1/2 NS Dextrose 5% in 0.45% saline Hypertonic (406 mOsm) Useful for daily maintenance of body fluids and nutrition, and for rehydration.
  • Most common postoperative fluid
D5LR Dextrose 5% in Lactated Ringer’s Hypertonic (575 mOsm) Same as LR plus provides about 180 calories per 1000cc’s.
  • Watch for fluid volume overload
Normosol-R Normosol Isotonic (295 mOsm) Replaces fluid and buffers pH
  • pH 7.4
  • Contains sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium and magnesium
  • Common fluid for OR and PACU


  • APRN

    D5 anything is NEVER hypertonic due to the physiological effect.