Intravenous phosphate in the intensive care unit: more aggressive repletion regimens for moderate and severe hypophosphatemia

Intensive Care Med. 2003 Aug;29(8):1273-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-003-1872-2. Epub 2003 Jul 5.


Objective: To evaluate efficacy and safety of aggressive correction of hypophosphatemia with intravenous potassium phosphate in the ICU.

Design and setting: Randomized interventional prospective study in the medical and surgical ICU of a tertiary university hospital.

Patients: Critically ill patients with hypophosphatemia between June and November 1998.

Measurements and results: Patients with moderate hypophosphatemia (<0.65 and >0.40 mmol/l; n=37) were randomized into two groups: group 1 received 30 mmol potassium phosphate intravenously in 50 ml saline over 2 h, and group 2 received 30 mmol potassium phosphate in 100 ml saline over 4 h. Patients with severe hypophosphatemia (<0.40 mmol/l; n=10) were also randomized into two groups: group 3 received 45 mmol potassium phosphate intravenously in 100 ml saline over 3 h, and group 4 received 45 mmol potassium phosphate in 100 ml saline over 6 h. Electrolytes, blood gas, renal function were monitored until day 3; urine was collected during and until 6 h after infusions. The overall efficacy of the protocols was 98% by the end of the infusion. There was no statistical difference in phosphate values between groups at the end of infusion or at 24 h. No adverse events were noted; one patient had an increase in serum potassium to 6.1 mmol/l. Phosphaturia in all groups was elevated as evidenced by fractional excretion above 20%.

Conclusions: More rapid administration of large potassium phosphate boluses is effective and safe for correcting hypophosphatemia in ICU patients with preserved renal function if baseline serum potassium is below 4 mmol/l.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypophosphatemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypophosphatemia / physiopathology
  • Infusion Pumps
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphates / administration & dosage
  • Phosphates / therapeutic use*
  • Potassium Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Potassium Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Phosphates
  • Potassium Compounds
  • potassium phosphate