Hepatic surgery-related hypophosphatemia

Clin Chim Acta. 2007 May 1;380(1-2):13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2007.01.027. Epub 2007 Feb 2.


This review describes pathophysiology of post-surgical hypophosphatemia (HP), which has particularly high incidence following liver transplantation. HP remains poorly understood; and there is a lack of universally accepted guidelines for its investigation and management. The pathogenesis of HP following major liver surgery has been hypothesized as being due either to excessive utilization by regenerating liver or increased urinary losses of phosphate. This review provides evidence that excessive urinary loss rather than increased Pi uptake by the liver is the most likely mechanism, and this may be mediated by recently described phosphaturic factors, known as phosphatonins. Until recently blood Pi homeostasis had been explained solely in terms of classical hormones, i.e., vitamin D and PTH. It is however increasingly recognized that phosphatonins may play a critical role in the post-operative HP, but the exact mechanism and candidate phosphaturic factor has not yet been identified. In this review, we have described likely mechanisms and suggest candidate phosphatonins that may mediate urinary Pi loss following liver transplantation. We also discuss the biochemical consequences of cellular Pi depletion, which exposes some gaps in the utilization of established knowledge and therefore in the management of HP. The main aspects of pathophysiology of HP and cellular Pi depletion are presented to provide rational for novel biochemical investigations, which are likely to improve monitoring of HP associated metabolic stress as well as extent of severity of HP, and thereby enhance management of these patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hepatectomy / adverse effects
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypophosphatemia / etiology*
  • Hypophosphatemia / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Liver Diseases / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Phosphates / urine
  • Postoperative Complications*


  • Phosphates