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Diagn Pathol. 2008 Jun 17;3:27. doi: 10.1186/1746-1596-3-27.

Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kayexalate) aspiration.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 22 South Greene Street, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


In this short report we illustrate a case of extensive sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS) aspiration as an immediate cause of death in a terminally ill patient. SPS is a cation exchange resin utilized to decrease potassium levels in patients with renal failure. When administered rectally in conjunction with sorbitol, colonic necrosis and perforation have been documented. On the other hand, oral administration can be complicated by aspiration, especially in very ill or debilitated patients. In our current report, histological examination of a patient who aspirated SPS shows multiple polygonal to amorphous basophilic crystalline particles deposited intraalveolarly. The purpose of our report is to familiarize pathologists with the histologic features of this rare iatrogenic complication of therapy for hyperkalemia.

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