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Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Oct;60(4):655-61. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.03.024. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Approach to treatment of hypophosphatemia.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, CA, USA.


Hypophosphatemia can be acute or chronic. Acute hypophosphatemia with phosphate depletion is common in the hospital setting and results in significant morbidity and mortality. Chronic hypophosphatemia, often associated with genetic or acquired renal phosphate-wasting disorders, usually produces abnormal growth and rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Acute hypophosphatemia may be mild (phosphorus level, 2-2.5 mg/dL), moderate (1-1.9 mg/dL), or severe (<1 mg/dL) and commonly occurs in clinical settings such as refeeding, alcoholism, diabetic ketoacidosis, malnutrition/starvation, and after surgery (particularly after partial hepatectomy) and in the intensive care unit. Phosphate replacement can be given either orally, intravenously, intradialytically, or in total parenteral nutrition solutions. The rate and amount of replacement are empirically determined, and several algorithms are available. Treatment is tailored to symptoms, severity, anticipated duration of illness, and presence of comorbid conditions, such as kidney failure, volume overload, hypo- or hypercalcemia, hypo- or hyperkalemia, and acid-base status. Mild/moderate acute hypophosphatemia usually can be corrected with increased dietary phosphate or oral supplementation, but intravenous replacement generally is needed when significant comorbid conditions or severe hypophosphatemia with phosphate depletion exist. In chronic hypophosphatemia, standard treatment includes oral phosphate supplementation and active vitamin D. Future treatment for specific disorders associated with chronic hypophosphatemia may include cinacalcet, calcitonin, or dypyrimadole.

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