Hypokalaemic rhabdomyolysis

Ann Clin Biochem. 2007 May;44(Pt 3):308-11. doi: 10.1258/000456307780480882.


Hypokalaemic rhabdomyolysis is unusual, but the association between hypokalaemia and rhabdomyolysis can be overlooked if intracellular potassium leakage normalizes serum potassium by the time of presentation. This report describes a patient who presented with severe pain due to non-traumatic rhabdomyolysis and was found to have serum potassium of 1.4 mmol/L; magnesium 0.40 mmol/L; phosphate 1.40 mmol/L; adjusted calcium 1.87 mmol/L and creatine kinase 6421 U/L. In this case, intervention occurred before rhabdomyolysis could progress to the stage at which serum potassium may have self-corrected. This patient's hypokalaemia was at first refractory to treatment with potassium chloride, possibly due to coexisting magnesium deficiency. Initially, the patient denied alcohol abuse, but later admitted alcohol misuse prior to withdrawal three days before presentation. Hypokalaemia is associated with alcohol misuse, but abrupt withdrawal may exacerbate hypokalaemia and hypomagnesaemia. Acute or chronic myopathy is common in alcoholics due to alcohol toxicity and paradoxically the risk of rhabdomyolysis may be increased during periods of abrupt alcohol withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypokalemia / complications*
  • Hypokalemia / drug therapy
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / administration & dosage
  • Rhabdomyolysis / complications*
  • Rhabdomyolysis / drug therapy
  • Tramadol / administration & dosage
  • Trimethoprim / administration & dosage


  • Tramadol
  • Trimethoprim
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium