Electrolyte Disorders

  • Patrick J. Javid


The management of fluids and electrolytes is central to the care of the surgical patient and, given the unique aspects of fluid and electrolyte metabolism in infants and children, becomes even more important in pediatric surgery. Water is the largest constituent of the human body and the relative volume of water within the body changes with age: total body water is greatest in the fetus (85% of body mass at mid-gestation), less in the newborn (75% of body mass), and lowest when adult levels are reached followed puberty (55–60% of body mass). Body water is found in both the extracellular and intracellular spaces although the majority of water resides in the intracellular space. The cell membrane separates the intracellular and extracellular domains and plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte physiology. There are marked differences in solute concentration between the intracellular and extracellular fluid compartments. The key concept is that water is freely permeable through the cell membrane. Therefore, when a solute concentration changes in one fluid compartment, water moves across the cell membrane to correct the change in osmolality and to facilitate equilibrium between the two compartments.


Total Body Water Short Bowel Syndrome Plasma Osmolality Urine Osmolality Pyloric Stenosis 
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Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgerySeattle Children’s Hospital, University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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