Fourteen apparently healthy patients with ileostomies were found to be depleted of total exchangeable sodium and potassium, but had normal serum electrolyte concentrations and normal extracellular fluid and total body water volumes. The low exchangeable sodium and potassiums were thus primarily due to depletion of the intracellular compartment. There was no evidence of renal or intestinal conservation of these ions and plasma aldosterone, renin activity, and prolactin concentrations were normal in most and only moderately raised in a few. This apparent lack of any hormonal compensatory change to the electrolyte depletion may be due to the normality of the extracellular fluid volume and electrolyte concentrations. These patients seem to have adapted to a stable but depleted intracellular sodium and potassium state.
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