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J Neurol. 1977 May 13;215(2):135-40.

Electrolyte changes and acid base balance after alcohol withdrawal, with special reference to rum fits and magnesium depletion.


70 chronic alcoholics in the withdrawal state, 45 with convulsions and 25 controls without convulsive seizures, were tested with respect to electrolyte changes and acid base balance in serum or blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It was of special interest to note that there was a partial independence between magnesium levels in serum and CSF. Thus the serum level has only a limited liability as to magnesium depletion suggested to be responsible for seizure precipitation. In the seizure group a slightly but significantly lower magnesium, potassium and calcium in CSF and a significant decrease of potassium and calcium in serum were revealed. In the nonzeizure controls a similar decrease of magnesium in serum and potassium in CSF was observed while serum potassium and calcium in CSF and serum remained in low normal range. In both groups there was a prominent respiratory alkalosis. The role of magnesium depression for seizure precipitation is discussed with respect to the concomitant changes of other electrolytes and acid base disturbances.

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