Plasma potassium in patients with terminal renal failure during and after haemodialysis; relationship with dialytic potassium removal and total body potassium

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1997 Aug;12(8):1629-34. doi: 10.1093/ndt/12.8.1629.


Background: Chronic haemodialysis (HD) patients may present with severe predialysis hyperkalaemia which is improved by dialytic treatment. However, factors influencing the behaviour of postdialysis plasma potassium (plasma K) are not well known.

Methods: In this prospective study 14 patients (7 female, 7 male) on chronic HD were investigated during a standardized 4-h HD with a 2 m2 high-flux dialyser and up to 6 h postdialysis. Dialytic potassium removal was measured by dialysate collection. Total body potassium (TBK) was measured by whole-body counting of 40K.

Results: Plasma K declined from 5.65 to 3.62 mmol/l on HD. In spite of a total dialytic removal of 107 mmol of potassium plasma K rose to 5.01 mmol/16 h postdialysis. TBK, as adjusted for age, was 38.2 and 49.0 mmol/kg BW in female and male patients respectively, i.e. in the normal range. Of a total potassium removal of 107 mmol on HD only 42% originated from the extracellular space. Dialytic potassium removal was best correlated with removal of intracellular potassium but also with extracellular potassium content and with the product of plasma K x TBK. The 6-h postdialysis plasma K was correlated with the predialysis value but not with TBK or dialytic potassium removal.

Conclusion: A rather high dialytic removal of potassium (which is correlated with plasma K x TBK) does not necessarily prevent a rapid postdialysis rebound of plasma K. Therefore patients with marked hyperkalaemia should be monitored closely postdialysis. TBK can be normal in haemodialysis patients who are well nourished.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Female
  • Gases / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Potassium / blood
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Renal Dialysis*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Gases
  • Insulin
  • Potassium