Laboratory tests to determine the cause of hypokalemia and paralysis

Shih-Hua Lin, Yuh-Feng Lin, Dung-Tsa Chen, Pauling Chu, Chin-Wang Hsu, Mitchell L Halperin
Archives of Internal Medicine 2004 July 26, 164 (14): 1561-6

BACKGROUND: Hypokalemia and paralysis may be due to a short-term shift of potassium into cells in hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HPP) or due to a large deficit of potassium in non-HPP. Failure to make a distinction between HPP and non-HPP may lead to improper management. Therefore, we evaluated the diagnostic value of spot urine tests in patients with hypokalemia and paralysis during 3 years.

METHODS: Before therapy, the urine potassium concentration, potassium-creatinine ratio, and transtubular potassium concentration gradient were determined in a second voided urine sample.

RESULTS: Forty-three patients with hypokalemia and paralysis were identified: 30 had HPP and 13 had non-HPP. There was no significant difference in the plasma potassium or bicarbonate concentrations and in the pH of arterial blood between the 2 groups. All but 2 patients in the non-HPP group had urine potassium concentration values less than 20 mmol/L. Although the potassium concentration was significantly lower in the HPP group, there was some overlap. In contrast, the transtubular potassium concentration gradient and potassium-creatinine ratio differentiated patients with HPP vs non-HPP. Although only a mean +/- SD of 63 +/- 36 mmol of potassium chloride was administered in the patients with HPP, rebound hyperkalemia (>5 mmol/L) occurred in 19 (63%) of these 30 patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Calculating the transtubular potassium concentration gradient and potassium-creatinine ratio provided a simple and reliable test to distinguish HPP from non-HPP. Minimal potassium chloride supplementation should be given to avoid rebound hyperkalemia in patients with HPP.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.