What is a Balanced Salt Solution&Reg;?

Sodium citrate is part of a Balanced Salt Solution.
A balanced salt solution involves a solution of water and salts.
Balanced Salt Solution is commonly used in a surgical setting.
A balanced salt solution may be used for nasal irrigation to clear congestion.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2015
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A balanced salt solution (BSS) is a solution of water and salts that approximates the balance of salts in the body. Numerous companies produce balanced salt solutions for medical use, including a specific brand known as Balanced Salt Solution®. These products are available for use in certain types of surgical procedures and pathology. Various package sizes and salt balances are made to meet the need for different kinds of procedures.

In the case of Balanced Salt Solution®, the product contains a blend of sodium citrate, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium acetate, magnesium chloride, and sodium chloride, blended to approximate the composition of interstitial fluid. It is not meant to be used internally for rehydration. One use is in eye surgery, where the surgeon can irrigate the eye with balanced salt solution during the procedure to keep it in good condition. Pathologists can use Balanced Salt Solution® to rinse tissues and supply them with needed electrolytes, and it can be blended with other materials to prepare specimens for pathology inspections.

The Balanced Salt Solution® comes in vials of various sizes. They are single use, with no preservatives, and any unused solution must be discarded after a procedure. The vials cannot be used with multiple patients due to concerns about cross contamination and infection. Surgeons can attach irrigating needles directly to the packaging, making it very easy to use this product in a surgical setting.


Patients usually do not need Balanced Salt Solution® at home, instead using different irrigating products after eye surgery, if a surgeon deems it necessary. Keeping the eyes flushed may be an important part of post surgical care to prevent infection, and patients will receive instruction in how to care for their eyes. They may also receive a prescription for a mild saline solution to use in eye care, or can purchase an over-the-counter product if a surgeon thinks it will be suitable. Patients with questions about post surgical eye care can ask for help from a doctor or nurse.

Suppliers of Balanced Salt Solution® and related products can usually special order specific solutions if people have a particular need. There may be a minimum for special orders and people may want to inquire about case discounts and other ways to save money on their orders. Keeping adequate supplies of basic materials like this is usually the responsibility of a nurse put in charge of monitoring supply levels, taking note of scheduled surgeries, and planning orders accordingly.


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