Extreme hyperglycemia with ketoacidosis and hyperkalemia in a patient on chronic hemodialysis. Academic Article Case Study uri icon


  • A patient on hemodialysis for end-stage renal disease secondary to diabetic nephropathy was admitted in a coma with Kussmaul breathing and hypertension (232/124 mmHg). She had extreme hyperglycemia (1884 mg/dL), acidosis (total CO(2) 4 mmol/L), hyperkalemia (7.2 mmol/L) with electrocardiographic abnormalities, and hypertonicity (330.7 mOsm/kg). Initial treatment with insulin drip resulted in a decrease in serum potassium to 5.3 mmol/L, but no significant change in mental status or other laboratory parameters. Hemodialysis of 1.75 hours resulted in rapid decline in serum glucose and tonicity and rapid improvement of the acidosis, but no change in mental status, which began to improve slowly after the hemodialysis was stopped, but with ongoing treatment with continuous insulin infusion. The rate of decline in tonicity during hemodialysis (14.5 mOsm/kg/h) was high, raising concerns about neurological complications. In this case, extreme hyperglycemia with ketoacidosis, hyperkalemia, and coma developing in a hemodialysis patient responded to insulin infusion. Monitoring of the clinical status and the pertinent laboratory values is required to assess the need for other therapeutic measures including volume and potassium replacement and emergency dialysis. The indications for and risks of emergency dialysis in this setting are not clearly defined.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008