0.9% NaCl vs. Ringer’s Lactate: Which Increases Potassium?

People worry about the potassium levels in Lactated Ringer’s but what if I were to tell you that there’s more hyperkalemia with saline? 0.9% saline is 154mmol/L of sodium and 154mmol/L of chloride. That’s it. There’s no potassium, calcium, magnesium, nor buffering agent in there. Ringer’s lactate, however, has 130mmol/L of sodium, 109mmol/L of chloride, 4mmol/L of potassium, 28mmol/L of lactate, and 3mmol/L of calcium. One would expect that the solution containing potassium would cause a greater increase in potassium than the one without potassium, right? Well, not so fast. Large volumes of sodium chloride, produce a hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis. What happens during acidosis? Well, there’s a shift of potassium from the intracellular space to the extra cellular space. Much of this has to do with the strong ion difference which I will be breaking down in the near future. In this study, 52 patients patients received either LR or NS during their renal transplants.

Here are the findings: This has been copied and pasted from the article. Please download it and read it for yourself.

“Patients in the NS group had a lower mean PH level during the transplantation compared with those who received LR (p < 0. 001).

Mean serum potassium levels in the NS and LR groups were 4.88 ± 0.7 and 4.03 ± 0.8 meq/L, respectively (p < 0.001).

Mean changes of the serum potassium were +0.5 ± 0.6 meq/L in the NS group and –0.5 ± 0.9 meq/L in the LR group (p < 0.001).

Mean changes of PH were −0.06 ± 0.05 in the NS group and –0.005 ± 0.07 in the LR group (p < 0.001)”

If next time someone tells you that LR causes hyperkalemia, you can be armed with data. I have other articles with similar results that I plan on sharing in the upcoming days.

I don’t know what to make of that thrombosis phenomenon they found. Must keep an eye out for more data regarding that.


Khajavi MR, Etezadi F, Moharari RS, Imani F, Meysamie AP, Khashayar P, Najafi A. Effects of normal saline vs. lactated ringer’s during renal transplantation. Ren Fail. 2008;30(5):535-9. doi: 10.1080/08860220802064770. PMID: 18569935.
Link to Article


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