Purpose: To report a case of severe hyperkalemia successfully managed without the use of hemodialysis and to provide a review of the literature regarding the management of severe hyperkalemia.
Methods: A clinical case report from the medical-surgical intensive care unit of a teaching hospital and a literature review are presented. The case involves a 59-year old man with diabetes mellitus, essential hypertension, and gout, who presented to hospital with severe hyperkalemia (K(+) = 10.4 mEq/L) and normal renal function. He was treated with intravenous fluids, sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, insulin, calcium resonium, and furosemide.
Results: The hyperkalemia resolved with conservative treatment within 8 hours, and dialytic therapy was not required. The literature review supported an initial conservative management approach in stable patients with intact renal function.
Conclusions: Hemodialysis is not necessary for all cases of severe hyperkalemia and should be reserved for patients with acute or chronic renal failure or those with life-threatening hyperkalemia unresponsive to more conservative measures.