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Tetany induced on separate occasions by administration of potassium and magnesium in a patient with hungry-bone syndrome.

The case is described of a 68-year-old man whose therapy induced tetany during each of two consecutive hospital admissions. On each occasion the patient had marked hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia, presumably as a result of the hungry-bone syndrome associated with diffuse prostatic osteoblastic metastases. During the February 1991 admission, marked hypokalemia was the principal initial concern. It seems likely that the tetany associated with the administration of KCl, without sufficient calcium, resulted from attenuation of the protection against hypocalcemia-enhanced neuromuscular excitability conferred by coexisting hypokalemia. The admission in March 1991 was prompted by the finding (without symptoms) of very low levels of both serum Mg and serum Ca. Tetany occurred during the infusion of MgSO4, without calcium. An acute decrement in plasma ionized Ca resulting from complexing of Ca with sulfate ions together with augmented urinary excretion of Ca were likely pathogenic factors.

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