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Trefz, F. M.; Lorch, A.; Zitzl, J.; Kutschke, A.; Knubben-Schweizer, G. and Lorenz, I. (2015): Risk Factors for the Development of Hypokalemia in Neonatal Diarrheic Calves. In: Journal of Veterinary internal Medicine, Vol. 29, No. 2: pp. 688-695 [PDF, 230kB]


BackgroundNeonatal diarrheic calves have a clear negative potassium balance because of intestinal losses and decreased milk intake but in the presence of acidemia, they usually show normokalemic or hyperkalemic plasma concentrations. ObjectivesTo assess whether marked hypokalemia occurs in response to the correction of acidemia and dehydration and to identify factors that are associated with this condition. AnimalsEighty-three calves with a clinical diagnosis of neonatal diarrhea. MethodsProspective cohort study. Calves were treated according to a clinical protocol using an oral electrolyte solution and commercially available packages of 8.4% sodium bicarbonate, 0.9% saline and 40% dextrose infusion solutions. ResultsThe proportion of hypokalemic calves after 24hours of treatment (19.3%) was twice as great as it was on admission to the hospital. Plasma K+ after 24hours of treatment was not significantly correlated to venous blood pH values at the same time but positively correlated to venous blood pH values on admission (r=0.51, P<.001). Base excess on admission (Odds ratio [OR]=0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.70-0.94),duration of diarrhea (OR=1.37, 95% CI=1.05-1.80),milk intake during hospitalization (OR=0.54, 95% CI=0.37-0.79) and plasma sodium concentrations after 24hours (OR=1.12, 95% CI=1.01-1.25) were identified to be independently associated (P<.05) with a hypokalemic state after 24hours of treatment. Conclusions and Clinical ImportanceFindings of this study suggest that marked depletion of body potassium stores is evident in diarrheic calves that suffered from marked metabolic acidosis, have a low milk intake and a long history of diarrhea.

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