Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Hypokalemia

Synonym(s): Hypopotassaemia, Hypopotassemia

Contributor(s): Kathleen P Freeman

Introduction

  • Abnormally low potassium concentration in the blood.
  • Hypokalemia is a manifestation of disease NOT A DIAGNOSIS.
  • Cause: excessive potassium loss through vomiting or urinary sytem, or reduced dietary intake (anorexia).
  • Signs: muscle weakness, ileus.
  • Diagnosis: laboratory measurement of potassium.
  • Treatment: manage underlying cause and potassium supplementation.
  • Prognosis: good if condition recognized and managed appropriately.

Pathogenesis

Etiology



Excessive potassium loss

Predisposing factors

General
  • Polyuria increases urinary loss of potassium.
  • Anorexia reduces dietary intake.

Pathophysiology

  • Vast majority (95%) of body potassium is present intracellularly.
  • Serum potassium concentration may not be an accurate reflection of total body stores.
  • Intestinal ileus may predispose to hypokalemia (pooling of potassium rich intestinal secretions within intestinal lumen).
  • Hypokalemia may → ileus.
  • In the recovery from gastrointestinal surgery particulary where vomiting has been a pre-operative feature, eg intussusception Intussusception or intestinal obstruction Intestine: obstruction serum potassium concentrations should be measured regularly and supplementation given where necessary to ensure rapid post-operative return to normal function.

Timecourse

  • Usually insidious onset over a number of days.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Schaer M (1999) Disorders of serum potassium sodium, magnesium and chloride. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (4), 209-217 VetMedResource.
  • Phillips S L & Polzin P J (1998) Clinical disorders of potassium homeostasis, hyperkalemia and hypokalemia. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 28 (3), 545-564 PubMed.
  • Macintire D K (1997) Disorders of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium in critical illness. Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet 19 (1), 41-49 VetMedResource.


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