Hyponatremia in Neurosurgical Patients: Clinical Guidelines Development

Neurosurgery. 65(5):925-936, November 2009. DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000358954.62182.B3

OBJECTIVE: Neurosurgical patients have a high risk of hyponatremia and associated complications. We critically evaluated the existing literature to identify the determinants for the development of hyponatremia and which management strategies provided the best outcomes.

METHODS: A multidisciplinary panel in the areas of neurosurgery, nephrology, critical care medicine, endocrinology, pharmacy, and nursing summarized and classified hyponatremia literature scientific studies published in English from 1950 through 2008. The panel’s recommendations were used to create an evaluation and treatment protocol for hyponatremia in neurosurgical patients at the University of Florida.

RESULTS: Hyponatremia should be further investigated and treated when the serum sodium level is less than 131 mmol/L (class II). Evaluation of hyponatremia should include a combination of physical examination findings, basic laboratory studies, and invasive monitoring when available (class III). Obtaining levels of hormones such as antidiuretic hormone and natriuretic peptides is not supported by the literature (class III). Treatment of hyponatremia should be based on severity of symptoms (class III). The serum sodium level should not be corrected by more than 10 mmol/L/d (class III). Cerebral salt wasting should be treated with replacement of serum sodium and intravenous fluids (class III). Fludrocortisone may be considered in the treatment of hyponatremia in subarachnoid hemorrhage patients at risk of vasospasm (class I). Hydrocortisone may be used to prevent natriuresis in subarachnoid hemorrhage patients (class I). Hyponatremia in subarachnoid hemorrhage patients at risk of vasospasm should not be treated with fluid restriction (class II). Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone may be treated with urea, diuretics, lithium, demeclocycline, and/or fluid restriction (class III).

CONCLUSION: The summarized literature on the evaluation and treatment of hyponatremia was used to develop practice management recommendations for hyponatremia in the neurosurgical population. However, the practice management recommendations relied heavily on expert opinion because of a paucity of class I evidence literature on hyponatremia.