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Open access

Irina Chifu, Amelie Gerstl, Björn Lengenfelder, Dominik Schmitt, Nils Nagler, Martin Fassnacht, and Dirk Weismann


Treatment of symptomatic hyponatremia is not well established. The European guidelines recommend bolus-wise administration of 150 mL of 3% hypertonic saline. This recommendation is, however, based on low level of evidence.


Observational study.


Sixty-two consecutive hyponatremic patients admitted to the emergency department or intensive care unit of the University Hospital Wuerzburg were divided in subgroups according to treatment (150 mL bolus of 3% hypertonic saline or conventional treatment) and symptom severity. Treatment target was defined as an increase in serum sodium by 5–10 mEq/L within first 24 h and maximum 8 mEq/L during subsequent 24 h.


Thirty-three out of sixty-two patients (53%) were presented with moderate symptoms and 29/62 (47%) with severe symptoms. Thirty-six were treated with hypertonic saline and 26 conventionally. In the hypertonic saline group, serum sodium increased from 116 ± 7 to 123 ± 6 (24 h) and 127 ± 6 mEq/L (48 h) and from 121 ± 6 to 126 ± 5 and 129 ± 4 mEq/L in the conventional group, respectively. Overcorrection at 24 h occurred more frequent in patients with severe symptoms than with moderate symptoms (38% vs 6%, P < 0.05). Diuresis correlated positively with the degree of sodium overcorrection at 24 h (r = 0.6, P < 0.01). Conventional therapies exposed patients to higher degrees of sodium fluctuations and an increased risk for insufficient sodium correction at 24 h compared to hypertonic saline (RR: 2.8, 95% CI: 1.4–5.5).


Sodium increase was more constant with hypertonic saline, but overcorrection rate was high, especially in severely symptomatic patients. Reducing bolus-volume and reevaluation before repeating bolus infusion might prevent overcorrection. Symptoms caused by hypovolemia can be misinterpreted as severely symptomatic hyponatremia and diuresis should be monitored.

Free access

Julie Refardt, Clara Odilia Sailer, Irina Chifu, Bettina Winzeler, Ingeborg Schnyder, Martin Fassnacht, Wiebke Fenske, Mirjam Christ-Crain, and the CODDI-Investigators


Diagnosis and treatment of dysnatremia is challenging and further complicated by the pitfalls of different sodium measurement methods. Routinely used sodium measurements are the indirect (plasma/serum) and direct (whole blood) ion-selective electrode (ISE) method, showing discrepant results especially in the setting of acute illness. Few clinicians are aware of the differences between the methods in clinically stable patients or healthy volunteers.


Data of 140 patients and 91 healthy volunteers undergoing osmotic stimulation with hypertonic saline infusion were analyzed. Sodium levels were measured simultaneously by indirect and direct ISE method before and at different time points during osmotic stimulation up to a sodium threshold of ≥150 mmol/L. The primary outcome was the difference in sodium levels between the indirect and direct ISE method.


878 sodium measurements were analyzed. Mean (s.d.) sodium levels ranged from 141 mmol/L (2.9) to 151 mmol/L (2.1) by the indirect ISE compared to 140 mmol/L (3) to 149 mmol/L (2.8) by the direct ISE method. The interclass correlation coefficient between the two methods was 0.844 (95% CI: 0.823–0.863). On average, measurements by the indirect ISE were 1.9 mmol/L (95% CI limits: −3.2 to 6.9) higher than those by the direct ISE method (P < 0.001). The tendency of the indirect ISE method resulting in higher levels increased with increasing sodium levels.


Intra-individual sodium levels differ significantly between the indirect and direct ISE method also in the absence of acute illness. It is therefore crucial to adhere to the same method in critical situations to avoid false decisions due to measurement differences.