Hyperkalemia Following Massive Transfusion in Trauma1

Brigham K. Au, William D. Dutton, Victor Zaydfudim, Timothy C. Nunez, Pampee P. Young, Bryan A. Cotton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Large-volume blood transfusions have been implicated in the development of hyperkalemia. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether critically injured patients receiving massive transfusions are at an increased risk of hyperkalemia. Methods: Massive transfusion (MT) cohort, all trauma patients (02/2004-01/2008) taken directly to the OR and receiving ≥10 units of RBC in first 24h. Comparison cohort (No-RBC), all patients (02/2004-01/2008) transported directly to the OR who received no blood products in the first 24h. Hyperkalemia defined as K+ > 5.5 mEq/L. Results: There were 266 MT patients, 237 No-RBC patients. MT patients were more likely to have hyperkalemia in the immediate postoperative setting (1.8% versus 4.6%, P = 0.049). However, linear regression did not identify intraoperative blood transfusions as a predictor of postoperative K+ values (P = 0.417). Logistic regression identified only preop K+ (OR 1.79, P = 0.021) and postop pH (OR 0.009, P = 0.001), but not MT, as independent risk factors for postop hyperkalemia. Conclusions: Despite concerns of hyperkalemia following MT, we found less than a 5% incidence of postop K+ (>5.5 mEq/L). After adjusting for the significant effects of preop K+ and postop pH, MT patients were at no higher risk of hyperkalemia than those who received no blood products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-289
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • hyperkalemia
  • massive transfusion
  • potassium
  • red blood cells
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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