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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2006 Aug 5;150(31):1715-8.

[Chronic renal function disorders during lithium use].

[Article in Dutch]

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  • 1Centrum voor Ambulante Ouderenpsychiatrie Altrecht, Utrecht.


Lithium is used for the treatment and prevention of bipolar disease and unipolar depression. A well-recognized adverse effect is renal diabetes insipidus resulting in polyuria and polydipsia. A debate has been going on for decades as to whether the long-term use of lithium may also cause slowly progressive renal failure. According to the literature, some decrease in renal function occurs in approximately 20% of the patients on long-term lithium treatment. Progressive renal failure probably develops in only a minority of them, but there is an increasing number of reports on patients that have become dependent upon dialysis due to the long-term use of lithium. In patients developing progressive renal failure, discontinuation of the use of lithium will have to be considered at some point in time. Limited data in the literature suggest that discontinuation of lithium may be advisable at a serum-creatinine concentration of approximately 200 micromol/l or a creatinine clearance of about 40 ml/min. The relatively large group of patients that develop less severe, nonprogressive renal failure and that continue to use lithium also deserves attention. According to the recent literature, chronic renal failure is a separate risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Adequate detection and management of hypertension, dyslipidaemia and perhaps also proteinuria may be of great importance for this group ofpatients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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