What causes neurologic complications in syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019
  • Author: Christie P Thomas, MBBS, FRCP, FASN, FAHA; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
  • Print

Neurologic complications in SIADH occur as a result of the brain's response to changes in osmolality. Hyponatremia and hypo-osmolality lead to acute edema of the brain cells. The rigid calvaria prevent expansion of brain volume beyond a certain point, after which the brain cells must adapt to persistent hypo-osmolality. However, a rapid increase in brain water content of more than 5-10% leads to severe cerebral edema and herniation and is fatal.

In response to a decrease in osmolality, brain ECF fluid moves into the CSF. The brain cells then lose potassium and intracellular organic osmolytes (amino acids, such as glutamate, glutamine, taurine, polyhydric alcohol, myoinositol, methylamine, and creatinine). This occurs concurrently to prevent excessive brain swelling. [6]

Following correction of hyponatremia, the adaptive process does not match the extrusion kinetics. Electrolytes rapidly reaccumulate in the brain ECF within 24 hours, resulting in a significant overshoot above normal brain contents within the first 48 hours after correction. Organic osmolytes return to normal brain content very slowly over 5-7 days. Electrolyte brain content returns to normal levels by the fifth day after correction, when organic osmolytes return to normal.

Irreversible neurologic damage and death may occur when the rate of correction of Na+ exceeds 0.5 mEq/L/h for patients with severe hyponatremia. At this rate of correction, osmolytes that have been lost in defense against brain edema during the development of hyponatremia cannot be restored as rapidly when hyponatremia is rapidly corrected. The brain cells are thus subject to osmotic injury, a condition termed osmotic demyelination. Certain factors such as hypokalemia, severe malnutrition, and advanced liver disease predispose patients to this devastating complication. [6]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!