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Fatal hypermagnesemia induced by preoperative colon preparation in an elderly woman: report of a case

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An 85-year-old woman with rectal carcinoma was referred to our hospital for surgical treatment. She had a history of constipation treated with oral magnesium oxide. She received 34 g of magnesium citrate (Magcolol P®) orally for 2 days as a mechanical bowel preparation prior to the operation. Just before the operation, she suddenly developed nausea, vomiting, and cyanosis and went into cardiac arrest. Despite support by mechanical ventilation, dopamine, dobutamine, and norepinephrine, she exhibited repeated bradycardia that was nearly fatal and required temporary pacing. The following day, her laboratory tests revealed marked hypermagnesemia (14.3 mg/dL). After a hemodialysis session, she recovered dramatically and all vasopressors were withdrawn. We conclude that preoperative mechanical bowel preparation with magnesium-containing cathartics can cause fatal hypermagnesemia in elderly patients even if their renal function is normal.

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Correspondence to Takeshi Kato.

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Uchiyama, C., Kato, T., Tomida, K. et al. Fatal hypermagnesemia induced by preoperative colon preparation in an elderly woman: report of a case. Clin J Gastroenterol 6, 105–110 (2013).

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