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September 1, 1951


Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

From the Departments of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Southern California School of Medicine, the Department of Surgery of the College of Medical Evangelists, and the Los Angeles County Hospital.

JAMA. 1951;147(1):24-30. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670180030006

Disturbances in the metabolism of potassium are a problem of clinical significance. The study of the behavior of this ion in disease was accelerated by the development of the flame photometer.1 This instrument has allowed rapid quantitative determinations to be made in volume. Considerable information, primarily on a research basis, has accumulated concerning mechanisms of shifts in body potassium2 and the symptoms and signs associated with these changes.3 Relatively little information, however, has been tabulated concerning the prophylaxis or therapy of potassium deficits, except in a few selected situations, such as infantile diarrhea,4 diabetic acidosis,5 and a small series of postoperative patients.6

The following report summarizes briefly the mechanisms responsible for deficits of potassium and the associated clinical symptomatology. Actual experience as to the etiology and treatment of potassium deficits in 150 patients is tabulated and discussed, with recommendations concerning treatment schedules.


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