What is the role of urine potassium assay in the diagnosis of hypokalemia (low potassium level)?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

A urine potassium assay establishes the pathophysiologic mechanism of hypokalemia. A spot urine potassium measurement is, for obvious reasons, the easiest and most commonly obtained test. Low urine potassium (< 20 mEq/L) suggests gastrointestinal loss, poor intake, or a shift of extracellular potassium into intracellular space. High urine potassium (>40 mEq/L) suggests renal loss.


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