Chapter 35. Derangements of Serum Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Phosphate, and Magnesium

Stephen P Kantrow, MD
DOI: 10.1378/critcare.21.35
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Electrolyte abnormalities are common in critically ill patients, and treatment requires a strong foundation of physiologic principles and knowledge of clinical presentations. This chapter provides a review of derangements of serum potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium, with an emphasis on clinical application of basic physiologic principles. We present important disease associations and clinical manifestations for each major derangement, and describe treatment approaches and challenges.

  • Review basic physiology leading to clinically important increases or decreases in serum levels of major electrolytes.

  • Recognize major disease associations and mechanisms leading to electrolyte derangements in critically ill patients.

  • Understand key principles underlying short-term treatment of electrolyte abnormalities.


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