What is included in the treatment of hypokalemic distal renal tubular acidosis (dRTA)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Sai-Ching Jim Yeung, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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In hypokalemic dRTA, treatment consists of long-term alkali administration in amounts sufficient to counterbalance endogenous acid production and any bicarbonaturia that may be present.

Fortunately, the alkali requirements of these patients are minimal compared with the requirements needed to treat patients with pRTA. A daily dose of 1-2 mEq/kg of NaHCO3 is usually sufficient in most cases and can be provided in the form of citrate solutions (eg, Shohl solution), which is well tolerated because it causes less abdominal distention and aerophagia than does sodium bicarbonate (tablet or solution).

Providing bicarbonate via citrate salts that are metabolized to bicarbonate in the liver provides the additional advantage of exogenous citrate from the portion escaping hepatic metabolism.

Potassium supplements are indicated in the presence of hypokalemia. Hypokalemia can be severe, and patients can be symptomatic. Spironolactone can be used to maintain normokalemia.

Corrective alkali therapy results in normal growth in children with dRTA if therapy is started early.

Hypercalciuria, nephrolithiasis, and nephrocalcinosis are also prevented when alkali therapy is started in the early stages of dRTA.

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