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March 28, 1980

Hypernatremia in Hepatic Failure

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego.

JAMA. 1980;243(12):1257-1260. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300380037019

The presence of hypernatremia in patients with hepatic failure has not received major attention. We examined the records of 25 patients admitted to the hospital with decompensated liver disease (usually Laënnec's cirrhosis) and found hypernatremia in 15. Probable causes include increased insensible water losses, impairment of water intake due to encephalopathy, and the use of osmotic cathartics with hypotonic enteric losses. Patients in this series showing hypernatremia had a mortality of 87%. Mortality in those without hypernatremia was 60%. The presence of increased serum sodium concentrations in patients with decompensated liver disease is an ominous but correctable abnormality reflecting a disturbance in water balance.

(JAMA 243:1257-1260, 1980)