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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 11, Issue 7, Pages 573-577
Brief Communication

Kayexalate (Sodium Polystyrene Sulphonate) in Sorbitol Associated with Intestinal Necrosis in Uremic Patients

Geoffrey W Gardiner

St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 15 April 1997; Accepted 2 July 1997

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Kayexalate (sodium polystyrene sulphonate) in sorbitol is commonly used to treat hyperkalemia in patients with renal insufficiency. Isolated case reports and one recent large series have documented intestinal necrosis following administration of kayexalate in sorbitol.

METHODS: Two patients with luminal kayexalate crystals associated with intestinal pathology were first identified in the pathology department, and clinicopathological correlation was carried out.

RESULTS: Both patients were seriously ill, had prior cardiac surgery and were in renal failure (uremic). Examination of autopsy and colonic resection showed luminal kayexalate crystals associated with underlying mucosal necrosis, submucosal edema and transmural inflammation.

CONCLUSION: Although occurring in complex clinical settings, the pathological findings provide additional evidence that kayexalate in sorbitol may be associated with intestinal necrosis and inflammation in uremic patients and that this may be a clinically and pathologically under-recognized iatrogenic bowel injury.