Treatment of severe hypophosphatemia

Ann Intern Med. 1978 Dec;89(6):941-4. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-89-6-941.


Aspects of phosphate biochemistry pertinent to therapy, the distribution of phosphorus in body compartments, therapeutic phosphorus preparations, prevention of hypophosphatemia, therapeutic guidelines, and side-effects of phosphorus therapy are reviewed. Severe hypophosphatemia (less than 0.32 mmol/litre or less than 1 mg/dl) can occur with normal or depleted body stores. Because a large amount of phosphorus may shift rapidly between the extracellular and intracellular or bone compartments, the size of a possible total body deficit cannot be estimated from the serum phosphorus level. Similar shifts may occur unpredictably during repair of hypophosphatemia. Therefore, correction of hypophosphatemia in any patient must be empiric and the response of serum levels to therapy should be followed closely. We discuss a method likely to correct hypophosphatemia while minimizing side-effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Humans
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total
  • Phosphates / blood*
  • Phosphorus / administration & dosage
  • Phosphorus / adverse effects
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / therapeutic use


  • Phosphates
  • Phosphorus