Issue: 2011 > January > case report

Life-threatening hypokalaemic paralysis associated with distal renal tubular acidosis

M. Vendeloo, A.L.H.J. Aarnoudse, E.F.H. van Bommel


A 56-year-old woman developed acute respiratory failure
requiring mechanical ventilation due to acute hypokalaemic paralysis. There was no gastrointestinal potassium loss nor was she taking diuretics. Additional analyses revealed a normal anion gap metabolic acidosis with a positive urine anion gap. An acid-load test revealed a renal urine acidification defect, leading to the diagnosis of distal renal tubular acidosis. Normalisation of serum potassium level was established with oral bicarbonate suppletion and temporary potassium suppletion.