Electrolyte disturbances in foals with severe rhabdomyolysis.

G. Perkins, Stephanie J Valberg, J. M. Madigan, G. P. Carlson, S. L. Jones

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Marked electrolyte abnormalities characterized by profound hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, hypocalcemia, and hyperphosphatemia were noted in 4 neonatal foals with acute rhabdomyolysis and pigmenturia. In 2 foals, rhabdomyolysis developed 4-6 days after admission for dysmaturity, and in 2 foals, rhabdomyolysis was evident on presentation. Rhabdomyolysis was a consequence of selenium deficiency with or without vitamin E deficiency, possibly combined with increased oxidant stress due to sepsis or hypoxia and reperfusion injury after parturition. Foals gained from 7 to 15% of their initial body weight within 48 hours of developing rhabdomyolysis. Three of the foals developed cardiac arrhythmias characterized by spiked T waves and decreased-amplitude P waves. Postmortem examination of 2 foals revealed extensive myodegeneration and renal tubular nephrosis; renal cortical necrosis with myocardial necrosis was noted in 1 foal. Destruction of the major intracellular compartment (intracellular fluid [ICF]) through extensive myonecrosis combined, in some cases, with myoglobinuric renal insufficiency produced major fluid shifts and life-threatening electrolyte derangements. With the major ICF compartment disrupted, hyperkalemia was most effectively treated using mineralocorticoids, loop diuretics, and ion exchange resins to enhance elimination. In addition, i.v. calcium, glucose, insulin, and sodium bicarbonate were administered, which helped redistribute potassium to the ICF. Severe rhabdomyolysis should be included in the differential diagnoses of hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, hypocalcemia, and hyperphosphatemia in neonatal foals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine / American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


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