Pseudohyperkalemia in horses with rhabdomyolysis reported by an enzymatic chemistry analyzer

To investigate pseudohyperkalemia occurring in horses experiencing rhabdomyolysis when serum chemistry profiles are run on an VetScan VS2 analyzer (Abaxis).

18 horses with rhabdomyolysis (creatine kinase [CK] > 1,000 U/L).

In 3 horses with serum CK activities > 5,800 U/L and persistent serum potassium concentrations of > 8.5 mmol/L (VetScan VS2), potassium concentrations were reevaluated with either i-STAT Alinity Base Station (Abbott), Catalyst (Idexx), or Cobas c501 (Roche) ion-specific analyzers. Paired serum samples from 15 additional horses (median serum CK activity, 7,601 U/L; range, 1,134 to 192,447 U/L) were analyzed on both VetScan VS2 and Cobas c501 machines. Serum potassium concentrations were compared between the VetScan VS2 and ion-specific analyzers by Bland-Altman and Wilcoxon ranked tests and correlated to log10 CK activity via Pearson correlation.

Serum potassium concentrations were significantly higher on the VetScan VS2 (6.7 ± 1.6 mmol/L) versus the ion-specific analyzers (4.0 ± 1.1 mmol/L; P < .0001), with high bias shown in Bland-Altman analysis (43.1 ± 27.9). Potassium concentrations positively correlated with log10 CK activity with the VetScan VS2 (R2 = 0.51; P = .003) but not the Cobas (R2 = 0.09; P = .3) analyzer.

An alternate analyzer to the VetScan VS2 should be used to evaluate serum potassium concentrations in horses with rhabdomyolysis because the VetScan VS2 methodology uses lactate dehydrogenase, which increases in serum with rhabdomyolysis and falsely elevates potassium concentrations.

Pseudohyperkalemia in horses with rhabdomyolysis reported by an enzymatic chemistry analyzer. Stephanie J Valberg et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023 Oct 13;262(1):1-5. doi: 10.2460/javma.23.06.0348. 


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