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  • Image not available.Osmotic pressure is generally dependent only on the number of nondiffusible solute particles. This is because the average kinetic energy of particles in solution is similar regardless of their mass.
  • Image not available.Potassium is the most important determinant of intracellular osmotic pressure, whereas sodium is the most important determinant of extracellular osmotic pressure.
  • Image not available.Fluid exchange between the intracellular and interstitial spaces is governed by the osmotic forces created by differences in nondiffusible solute concentrations.
  • Image not available.Serious manifestations of hyponatremia are generally associated with plasma sodium concentrations < 120 mEq/L.
  • Image not available.Very rapid correction of hyponatremia has been associated with demyelinating lesions in the pons (central pontine myelinolysis), resulting in serious permanent neurological sequelae.
  • Image not available.The major hazard of increases in extracellular volume is impaired gas exchange due to pulmonary interstitial edema, alveolar edema, or large collections of pleural or ascitic fluid.
  • Image not available.Intravenous replacement of potassium chloride should usually be reserved for patients with or at risk for serious cardiac manifestations or muscle weakness.
  • Image not available.Because of its lethal potential, hyperkalemia exceeding 6 mEq/L should always be treated.
  • Image not available.Symptomatic hypercalcemia requires rapid treatment. The most effective initial treatment is rehydration followed by a brisk diuresis (urinary output 200–300 mL/h) with administration of intravenous saline infusion and a loop diuretic to accelerate calcium excretion.
  • Image not available.Symptomatic hypocalcemia is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately with intravenous calcium chloride (3–5 mL of a 10% solution) or calcium gluconate (10–20 mL of a 10% solution).
  • Image not available.Some patients with severe hypophosphatemia may require mechanical ventilation postoperatively.
  • Image not available.Marked hypermagnesemia can lead to respiratory arrest.
  • Image not available.Isolated hypomagnesemia should be corrected prior to elective procedures because of its potential for causing cardiac arrhythmias.


Fluid and electrolyte disturbances are extremely common in the perioperative period. Large amounts of intravenous fluids are frequently required to correct fluid deficits and compensate for blood loss during surgery. Anesthesiologists must therefore have a clear understanding of normal water and electrolyte physiology. Major disturbances in fluid and electrolyte balance can rapidly alter cardiovascular, neurological, and neuromuscular functions. This chapter examines the body’s fluid compartments and common water and electrolyte derangements, their treatment, and anesthetic implications. Acid–base disorders and intravenous fluid therapy are discussed in subsequent chapters.


The system of international units (SI) has still not gained universal acceptance in clinical practice, and many older expressions of concentration remain in common use. Thus, for example, the quantity of a solute in a solution may be expressed in grams, moles, or equivalents. To complicate matters further, the concentration of a solution may be expressed either as quantity of solute per volume of solution or quantity of solute per weight of solvent.


Molarity, Molality, & Equivalency


One mole of a substance represents 6.02 × 1023 molecules. The weight of this quantity in grams is commonly referred to as gram-molecular weight. Molarity is the standard SI unit of concentration that expresses the number of moles of solute per liter of solution. Molality is an alternative term that expresses moles ...

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